08/04/2011 11:50AM

Suffolk: Sultan's Prince looks strong in Last Dance Stakes


After poaching the Rise Jim Stakes three weeks ago, Sultan’s Prince appears poised to live up to the lofty standards of his blue-blooded Massachusetts-bred family in Saturday’s $50,000 Last Dance Stakes at Suffolk Downs.

The statebred stakes program was supposed to be more competitive this year thanks to key retirements, but when Sultan’s Prince rushed past Same Day Pleasure in the middle of the track last month, it had to leave many connections wondering what just hit them.

Bred, owned, and trained by Patricia, Jonathan, and Tim Kirby, Sultan’s Prince is from the equine family that dominated the statebred races in the early 2000’s, with sister Sunlit Ridge winning 16 times and Stylish Sultan winning 17 times. Each earned more than $340,000.

Sultan’s Prince started on the rail and lagged behind the quick pace of the six-furlong Rise Jim before wheeling around the field and scoring by 1 1/4 lengths. The horse appears to be realizing his potential three years after winning the 2008 African Prince Stakes, and his late-running style bodes well for the mile and 70-yard distance of the Last Dance.

If Sultan’s Prince reverts to his prior inconsistent form, Same Day Pleasure should be ready to get revenge after darting between horses late in the Rise Jim. The Tony Ryan-trainee won the 2009 John Kirby at the same distance of Saturday’s race.

Also experiencing trip trouble in the Rise Jim was third-place finisher Lord Kyle’s Quest. He stretches out to the longest distance of his career, though he was a close runner-up in three of his seven attempts at a flat mile.

Defending champion Mr. Meso is back, but he finished 10th in the Rise Jim and at age 11 he doesn’t appear to have the same magic he had in his two stakes wins last year.