Brian Nadeau’s Road to the Triple Crown: The Fountain of Youth Stakes

Gulfstream Park: The GII, $400,000 Fountain of Youth at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 50-20-10-5)

by Brian Nadeau

Brian handicaps at Capital OTB and Horseplayer Now, and he’ll offer analysis and selections of Derby points races, hoping to make us all a little money as we head to the Belmont Stakes. Follow him on Twitter here.

Dennis’ Moment and José Ortiz. Churchill Downs photo.

#1 Candy Tycoon (15-1): Highly touted Pletcher 2-year-old burned a lot of money last year but finally broke through here over the track and distance when he easily wired MSW foes last time, in what was also his first two-turn start on the dirt. Son of Twirling Candy may have put it all together that day, and judged on that initial two-turn try, a fringe player here, but this is a race loaded with speed, which means he’s really up against it on the seismic class rise; midpack finish may be his ceiling.

#2 Makabim (50-1): The first of three huge longshots in a row shows two wins against cheap claimers on his résumé, so while Hurtak has quietly had a nice meet with limited starters, this Tapizar gelding won’t add to the ledger; get home safely.

#3 Masterday (30-1): Zerpa charge stretched out and was a well-beaten second to Ny Traffic in his two-turn debut in an optional-claimer here last month, and again ran another slow figure, and while ‘Traffic did return to run a good third in the Fair Grounds’ GII Risen Star, this son of New Year’s Day won’t be duplicating that run today; easy toss.

#4 The Falcon (50-1): The first of two maidens entered has hit the board in both starts, though one was sprinting against MCLers at Churchill Downs in November and the other was a closing second on the Polytrack at Turfway Park going two turns last month, which means that this son of Union Rags is only entered because Quartarolo and owner Paolucci want to be part of the party; no chance.

#5 Dennis’ Moment (2-1): The horse that would be king has been devastating when he’s had a fair go of it, but has sandwiched his two big wins around some bad, bad luck, as he tossed his jockey on début at CD last year, then stumbled badly at the start at odds-on in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when last seen at Santa Anita in November. Romans has regrouped since, and this son of Tiznow has sure sparkled in the morning, and his tactical speed in the afternoon should have him sitting off the aforementioned hot, and likely contested, pace. On the face of it there’s little doubt he’s the most talented runner here, and there aren’t any other tigers entered, either, so provided he has a fair go of it, he’s got to deliver the goods; put up or shut up time.

#6 As Seen On Tv (9-2): Pace player chased early, took a short lead late, then couldn’t hold off fellow rival Chance It when second, beaten just a neck, in the one-turn Mucho Macho Man here in early January, and will try to stretch out to two turns for the first time today. Talented Florida-bred son of Lookin At Lucky was clear of Sole Volante that day, and he returned to win the GIII Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, so the race stacks up, and Breen knows what to do with a nice horse, but the race flow doesn’t seem to fit this one today; making him prove it.

#7 Country Grammar (15-1): Expected stalker steps way up for Brown off a 1 1/8-miles MSW win at Aqueduct when last seen in November, in what was just his second start and first on dirt, so there’s a world of upside here. Son of 15k Tonalist cost a pricey 450k as a 2yo-in-training, so obviously the connections liked what they saw, and though he’s a bit late to the party, he does seem to have plenty of talent. And don’t lose sight of this aggressive move by a multiple Eclipse award winning trainer who rarely runs them where they don’t belong, so while he’s looking up at a lot of these on experience, talent can often outweigh that, not to mention that he should trip out beautifully off the speed; expecting a huge run.

#8 Gear Jockey (20-1): The second of the maidens is actually a proven commodity, as he’s been in a pair of graded turf stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at SA last fall, so he’s not as hopeless as The Falcon. Of course, this Calumet homebred son of Twirling Candy was a meek fifth here on the dirt in a MSW in December for Arnold and hasn’t been seen since, and his only other dirt start was an awful eighth at Saratoga in August, which makes his presence here mighty odd; needs the green stuff.

#9 Liam’s Lucky Charm (15-1): Likely pace-presser went to New Orleans as a hot horse and was 5-1 in the second division of the Risen Star, then proceeded to not run an inch when 10th of 11, so what you get here is anyone’s guess. Fans of this Nicks-trained son of Khozan will say he simply didn’t like the ship, while pundits will say that his only other two-turn start was a well-beaten third in a Florida-bred stakes, so while he’s not as bad as the Risen Star, he’s also not as good as his flashy stakes wins at this trip; can’t endorse.

#10 Shotski (10-1) Tricky read upset Aqueduct’s GII Remsen in November to announce his presence, though he did it over an extremely inside-speed biased track, so that effort can be viewed with some skepticism. O’Dwyer charge did come right back to run a better-than-it-looked second in their GIII Withers last time, when he never got a breather in the lane but still gutted it out when it looked like he was caving in off the far turn. He also gets a few bonus points today, as both those runs were at 1 1/8 miles, so he’ll have plenty of foundation on the cutback, and he also won’t be on the lead here, as the spits will be much quicker, so while his quality is still up for debate, he figures to give another good account of himself; exotics appeal.

#11 Ete Indien (8-1): One of several here that wants to hear his feet rattle early was a very good second after taking plenty of pace pressure behind hotshot Tiz the Law in the over the track and distance GIII Holy Bull earlier this month, in what was his first two-turn dirt start, too. Bargain son of Summer Front has done nothing wrong for Biancone and we’ve seen the short finish line (which they use at 1 1/16 miles) carry speed further than it should in this race, but wiring this group from out here, or dueling and lasting, seem like mighty big asks; know him early, not sure about late.

#12 Chance It (7-2): SCRATCHED Major player won a stretch-long battle with ‘Tv in the Mucho Macho Man while showing that he’s a player outside the Florida-bred ranks, too, though this son of Currency Swap got no help from the draw today. At least there is a rating gear here, and unlike his fellow Sunshine State rival, this colt has a win at two turns, which was a romp in the state-bred In Reality over the track and distance in September. Versatile sort settled nicely last time and goes second off the layoff here, so he’s got a chance, but the post and tougher company seem destined to trip him up; underneath only.

Selections:

#5 Dennis’ Moment

#7 Country Grammar

#12 Chance It

#10 Shotski

#6 As Seen On Tv

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