Gulfstream Park: The Grade II, $400,000 Fountain of Youth at 1 1/16 miles
#1 Orb: Homebred has looked good winning his last two for Shug and added
blinkers Lasix for his last, a snazzy two-turn optional claimer over the local strip, although runner-up Duke Of The City bombed last week in a similar spot. Improving colt drew perfectly for his stakes bow and looks about as good as any of the others aside from the favorite, but his grind-it-out style just isn’t a good fit in a race like this; willing to play against.
#2 Joshua’s Comprise: Stone-cold closer rallied from about a football field back on the backstretch to finish fourth in the track and distance GIII Holy Bull, though he was beaten 14 lengths that day. On the plus side, that race was run in track record time, though when you need to come from the clouds every time, it’s not the best strategy to endorse; tough to like.
#3 Violence: Likely odds-on favorite for Pletcher would have been a handful in any race but geesh, he sure did find a cushy spot to get things started at 3, didn’t he? Perfect in three juvenile wins, including his last in Hollywood Park’s GI CashCall to end his season in December, and there’s little doubt the path to the winner’s circle goes through this son of Medaglia d’Oro. On paper he’s simply a better, faster horse than any of his rivals, and with none of them really being much more than allowance horses to begin with, it’s pretty implausible to think he doesn’t drill them all and make it 4-for-4; looks far too tough for these modest types.
#4 Majestic Hussar: Stretchout sprinter looked good beating Pletcher’s talented Palace Malice over the track last month and could be the one to catch as he makes his two-turn and stakes debut. Sire Majestic Warrior was more of a 7-furlong type, but damsire Distorted Humor can get a two-turn horse (think Funny Cide), so this middle distance could be within his scope. The biggest asset in this corner is the speed-favoring local strip, which has been nothing more than a paved highway going long all meet, so if they let him go early and he feels like getting brave, there’s a chance he puts a big scare into them all in deep stretch; taking a favorable view.
#5 Elmutahid: Shadwell homebred jumped up with a sharp wire-to-wire win in the slop going 1 1/8 miles here last month and might be the one to press ‘Majestic from the outside early for McLaughlin. Son of UAE Derby winner Street Cry made his main track debut that day and sure took to it, but he’s still unproven over a fast strip and is stepping way up in class, so he’s got his work cut out for him; making him prove it.
#6 Cerro (Ire): Rapidly improving son of Mr. Greeley looks like the best of the up-and-comers off a sharp 1 1/8-mile optional claiming win over the track last month for Motion. Versatile runner wired them that day but doesn’t appear to be a “need the lead” type, so you can envision him stalking the inside speed (s) and trying to win it off the far turn. Long-striding Team Valor colt is in expert hands, looks like the “now” horse and seems to be the one in the perfect spot should the heavy chalk stub his toe; looms the main danger.
#7 Sky Captain: Casse charged improved mightily when he stretched out and was a game second to Cerro, though he’s got to bridge the 2 ½-length gap on that rival, not to mention deal with Violence, so the hurdles are there. Still, that was his first route try, so he has every right to improve for a trainer that knows how to get a horse ready for a big race. Son of Sky Mesa figures to sit a nice trip off the early leaders, and both his connections and the betting public will know just where he stands in this division when they turn for home; exotics potential.
#8 Speak Logistics: One of two in here to exit Tampa Bay Downs’ GIII Sam Davis and he should move forward off that fourth-place run in his seasonal debut. Underrated colt did some decent work last year, most notably a sharp two-turn win in a pricey Calder stakes, albeit over a “good” track, so he’s got a right to be in with this group. On paper he’s one of many–if not all—starters, aside from the favorite, who are trying to find out just where they stack up in the division, and that means he’s got to be cranked for a big effort today; using him in the gimmicks.
#9 He’s Had Enough: The Derby-winning connections of I’ll Have Another are back with an aptly named colt who has one shining moment to his credit, and that’s when the pace fell apart in the BC Juvenile at Santa Anita last year and he was second, beaten just a head by champion Shanghai Bobby. Of course, they timed that race with an hourglass, so he’s not exactly Chuck Yeager, which means he’s going to have to hurry. Exits a third-place run in SA’s GII Bob Lewis earlier this month, when he was too close to the pace in a four-horse field, and while he’ll sit his more accustomed stalking/closing trip today, there’s really no reason to think he’s going to threaten any of these in the lane; confidently tossing.
#10 Falling Sky: Son of Lion Heart wired a roughly run Davis at TB in his first start at 3, first start for Terranova and first start at two turns, so the accomplishment was not an insignificant one. Still, if runner-up Dynamic Sky gets a clean run that day he wins easy, so let’s not go too overboard on this colt’s performance. Speedy sort got brutalized by this draw, so expecting him to be wide most of the trip, which doesn’t speak too highly of one’s chances when facing the toughest task of one’s career; making him do it again.
#11 Sr. Quisqueyano: State-bred was distanced in the Holy Bull and seems a far better horse going one-turn than two, so from this wide draw, it’s tough to think he can do little more than bring up the rear once again; easy toss.
#4 Majestic Hussar