The Fountain of Youth Stakes – Grade II, $250,000 – Gulfstream Park – 1 Mile
by Brian Nadeau
When I first heard this race was being shortened to 1-mile, and therefore being run at one-turn, I was really disappointed. It’s doesn’t quite have the appeal it once did and it loses a little of its luster as a true prep for the Florida Derby on March 28. But with all that being said, this is simply a tremendous renewal of the Fountain of Youth. To me it looks like the 3-year-old version of the Met Mile. You really do have it all: speedy sprinters trying to stretch out, crack one-turn milers getting to play their game and two-turn specialists trying to turn back and then move forward to the aforementioned Florida Derby. Something’s got to give, so let’s see if we can figure it out.
Bee Cee Cee: Didn’t run poorly in either the Spectacular Bid or the Hutcheson here, checking in third both times, but he was also nowhere near the winners. He does get an additional furlong to work with, and he’s progressed each time he’s gone further, so while he’s not a win candidate he could spice up your tri at a nice number.
Theregoesjojo: Looked awesome dusting fellow entrant Quality Road in an entry-level allowance here on January 10 and a repeat of that race certainly puts him in the mix. The mile looks like it might be perfect for him as well and he’s got a nice stalking gear to let the speed go and then reel them in. McPeek wisely gave him plenty of time to recover from the allowance score, which was his first race in more than six months. Fresh, fit and dangerous in the lane.
Notonthesamepage: Benefited from the paved highway on opening day when he ran off and hid by 8 ¼ lengths in the Spectacular Bid, running 6 furlongs in 1:08.48 and getting a Beyer Speed Figure (114) that wins most Breeders’ Cup Sprints. That’s all fine and dandy, but the water gets quite a bit deeper today. He gets two more furlongs and faces a ton of early pace pressure. Sure, he might run them all off their feet again, but he’s got to prove it to me. Pop and fade seems more likely.
Take The Points: All indications are he’ll ship west for the Sham at Santa Anita (we’ll preview that one later in the week), where he’ll tackle two turns for the first time.
Jack Spratt: Stretch runner runs on conventional dirt for the first time but his sire Candy Ride sure did like it, and he’s becoming a solid sire early on. This colt was an upset winner of a turf stakes here earlier in the month and if you’re a 3-year-old who can pass horses in the lane, it’s the law you have to try the dirt. And why not? This guy has done some good work and though he looks a bit overmatched, he could be passing some wobbly sorts in the lane.
Rocketing Returns: Well-bred sort tested the big boys in the Hutcheson and came up wanting badly in the lane, finishing 8 ½ lengths behind Fountain of Youth rival Capt. Candyman Can. Considering that was his first stakes assignment and he never got a breather up front, you can forgive the fade a bit, but the problem is that things look about the same in here. Not today.
Beethoven: He’s one of the two-turn guys that are kind of in no man’s land here today. He’s got to run somewhere to get to the Florida Derby and rather than ship out of town, Ward trudges on in this spot. He didn’t have much of a chance in the Holy Bull here on January 31, when he drew out on Hallandale Boulevard and had a wide trip the whole way around. He draws much better here and could be rolling late, but the feeling is this is just a nice little spot to stretch his legs and tune up for the Florida Derby.
Break Water Edison: Nice looking 2-year-old never got untracked in the Hutcheson and was 11 lengths behind Capt. Candyman Can. So what do you do with that run? He looked great winning the Nashua in his finale last season, so I’ll just hope he had a bad day in the Hutcheson. Kimmel adds the blinkers, a potent move for this barn, and that could have him a bit more focused early and sitting right off the speed. Dad Lemon Drop Kid went from a solid handicap horse to a superstar when he got the hood as a 4-year-old, so maybe it will work with his son, too. It’s time to put up or shut up for this well-bred colt and I’m going to hope he’s doing a lot of talking afterwards. Let’s tab him for the win at an overlaid price to boot.
Capt. Candyman Can: Couldn’t have been more impressive winning the Hutcheson when he settled a tad early and then exploded in the lane. He beat Hello Broadway that day, who ranks high on most Derby lists, so you know this gelding didn’t beat a bunch of softies. If I had to nit-pick I’d mention that I was a little surprised to see him run that well right off the bench, as Wilkes usually likes to take a more patient approach. Maybe he’s just that good? It’s quite possible, but do you want to take about 5-2 to find out?
Taqarub: Yup, it just keeps getting better and better. Speedy sort comes to the party undefeated and untested in three lifetime starts and he’s never been headed to boot. Ships down from Aqueduct to see if he can get a ticket on the Derby Trail and his speed is going to have him in the mix from the opening bell. He does draw a nice attack post, so if he doesn’t need the lead, he should be in a pretty nice spot turning for home. He’s not at the top of my list, but I’ll readily admit this guy could be any kind. Team McLaughlin fans should get their guy at a nice price.
Quality Road: Lost a bit of luster when Herecomesjojo drilled him earlier in the meet, but hey, that was his first start versus winners and only second lifetime. Point being this colt had every right to regress a bit off his fast maiden score at Aqueduct in late November. The fact that Jerkens sends him here off that loss is another good sign. Talented and speedy sort gets Lasix added and only adds to the depth of this outstanding field.
This Ones For Phil: The Dutrow magic worked wonders last time, as this colt aired in the Sunshine Millions Dash while running a 116 Beyer. His previous best? An 81 in a maiden-claimer at Calder last July. Uh huh. Anywho, he does own a win at today’s 1-mile distance and is another who should sit a nice trip behind the early gas. If he runs back to his last race, he’ll win this for fun, but I just can’t see it happening. He’s got to do it again to make me believe, so I’ll take a strong stand against him in here.