Things haven't gone Pay Any Price's way of late, but the North American record-holder for five furlongs on turf will seek to give Averill Racing and Matties Racing something to cheer about in Saturday's $100,000 Janus Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The Janus, a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up, has been carded as Race 4 on Saturday's 11-race program that will also feature the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens, a two-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and up, the $100,000 Abundantia, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares, the $75,000 Tropical Park Derby, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds, the $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds fillies, and the $75,000 Via Borghese, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for fillies and mares.
Pay Any Price, who is scheduled to seek his fifth consecutive victory and 16th win in a 25-race career in the Janus, has been idle since winning the Tamiami Handicap at Gulfstream Sept. 16 due to a couple of unforeseen circumstances.
The 8-year-old gelding, who won the 2017 Silks Run at Gulfstream in 53.61 seconds to set a North American mark for five furlong on turf, was being pointed to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, only to be excluded from the field by the selection committee.
“I was devastated. I was really upset. I always wanted to run in the Breeders' Cup with a legit chance. I'm not going to go if I don't think we have a chance, but we really thought we had a chance and did everything in preparation to get him there. Unfortunately, the voters didn't see it out way,” owner Rich Averill said.
Pay Any Price made it into the starting gate at Tampa Bay Downs for the Turf Dash Dec. 1 but was scratched due to an incident in the starting gate.
“He was the '7' and the '6' broke out of the gate. When the '6' popped, he thought it was time to go and he popped. The outrider grabbed him so he wouldn't go, and when he turned him, (jockey Edgard) Zayas went flying and wasn't able to hold on and the horse got loose,” Averill said. “(Pay Any Price) is scared of other horses. He didn't run off. He was right there. For whatever reason the outriders didn't get off their ponies and walk up to him, but they kept chasing him with the ponies. Luckily nothing happened. He came out of it fine.
“It's been back-to-back, not getting into the Breeders' Cup and being at Tampa with a bunch of family and friends and to get scratched was awful,” Averill added.
Pay Any Price, who has won 12 of 16 starts over the Gulfstream turf course, has been rated at 7-5 in the morning line for the Janus, which drew a field of nine and a main-track-only entrant. Zayas has the call.
Mr. Amore Stable's Vision Perfect, who defeated Pay Any Price in the Silks Run March 10, is rated at 7-2 in the morning line for the Janus. The Jason Servis-trained 6-year-old finished 13th in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint but rebounded to win the Turf Dash at Tampa last time out. Irad Ortiz Jr. is scheduled to be aboard the graded stakes-winning son of Pollard's Vision.
Hogy, who captured the mile Canadian Turf (G3) at Gulfstream March 3, is an 18-race winner and $1.3 million earner who also will bet well supported at the mutuel windows.
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