Imprimis looks for bounce-back

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Irad Ortiz, Jr. celebrates as he rides Newspaperofrecord to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf horse race at Churchill Downs, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Connections of Imprimis will be keen to start 2021 on a high note in Friday’s $75,000 Janus Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

The five-furlong spring for four-year-olds and up will give Imprimis a quick opportunity to banish the memories of an often challenging and shortened 2020 campaign.

The veteran star turf sprinter was most recently spotted in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland last month, running into traffic problems when attempting to get between horses to make a challenge under Irad Ortiz Jr.

The rider had to change course and trainer Joe Orseno admits it was deeply frustrating to see his charge forfeit his chance in those circumstances.

“He got shut off for no reason. He was up in there and going. The horse was just starting to run,” trainer Orseno said. “It was tough. It takes a lot to get him to where he is and peak like that and keep him like that.

“It wasn’t like I had three or four in that day. I had one in and that was my best shot. He was the best horse but unfortunately the best horse didn’t win. It was just a shame for all the connections. It was like a kick in the gut.”

It’s certainly not the first hint of poor luck for Imprimis this year. The son of Broken Vow went by the post first in the Troy (G3) at Saratoga in September on his return from a significant layoff, only to lose the race in the stewards’ room.

Compensation soon arrived when he won the $700,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3) on his next start, seemingly teeing him up for a clip at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.

Imprimis boasts a perfect record at Gulfstream with four wins in four starts. Orseno suggests he was contemplating waiting until February to go again but he believes Imprimis’ current mood is demanding a return soon rather than later.

“We were talking about waiting until the Gulfstream Turf Sprint on February 12th, but he’s doing so well,” Orseno said.

Ortiz retains the mount on the Florida-bred gelding for the Janus Stakes assignment.

Extravagant Kid, who finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland, is in line to defend his crown in the Janus while Blind Ambition, Fully Loaded, Harry’s Ontheloose, Sayyaaf and The Critical Way are amongst the other leading contenders.