Choosing the winner not so simple
A dozen prospects are entered for Saturday’s 2nd year, $400,000 fountain of Youth. The 1 1/16-mile event is the second leg of preparations for the 2022 Kentucky Derby held at Gulfstream Park and has a qualifying point scale of 50-20-10-5.
Mo Donegal has been scratched due to fever, so Galt shows up.
Simplification, Giant Game and Galt finished second, third and fourth in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) respectively, and they’re back for another shot in the winner’s circle.
Let’s review the terrain.
(7-2) proved he could assess and pass horses in the Holy Bull after blowing the break. He closed furiously in the stretch but ran out of real estate, finishing 4 1/2 lengths behind White Abarrio. Coming off post 2, Jose Ortiz can use Simplification’s speed to take the lead or sit behind the pace. Antonio Sano’s apprentice has a win/lose cycle that dates back to the beginnings of last October. He lost his last race, so… Winning contestant.
Immanuel (9-2) was impressive in his first two starts, winning by a combined 11 1/4 lengths. Now is the time to see if Todd Pletcher has another Derby contender. He shot 48.05 seconds for four furlongs in his final breeze alongside 2020 Bourbon Stakes (G2) winner Mutasaabeq and finished half a length ahead of his rival, not giving up an inch. By More Than Ready and out of a half-sister to Grade 1 Free Drop winner Billy, Emmanuel should have the class to be competitive. Winning contestant.
(20-1) beat optional claimants by 1 1/2 lengths in his last start. He is conditioned by second trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. and piloted by third jock Tyler Gaffalione. On his last start, Cupid’s son ran a mile in 1:35.54, getting his final furrow in a whopping 12.61. While it’s true that he didn’t beat anything and was spanked by Strike Hard by four lengths on his second start, AP’s Secret’s speed ratings are improving and he has tactical speed. Double contender for secret victory.
(6-1) improved on his second start after the layoff to destroy optional 5 3/4 length contenders, beating past two well-regarded and expensive maidens, American Icon (by Gun Runner) and Iron Works (by Distorted Humor ) in the process. The Kelly Breen trainee posted a ball five furlongs in 59.60 on February 28, but was pushed through the lane on that solo move. Not This Time’s son is out of half-sister Curlin who didn’t run and multi-stakes $600,000+ winner Successful Song. In due course, the Brisnet speed ratings are heading in the right direction, and Paco Lopez should secure a good spot from Post 4.
Dale Romans netted a pair of long shots, Howling Time and Giant Game, both 15-1. of the pair, Howling time
(15-1) has the most advantages. A 3 1/2 length winner of the Street Sense Stakes, The Not This Time colt passed out in fifth place in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) after setting the pace. This race yielded three subsequent winners and a second in the Graduated Stakes. Howling Time enters the fountain of youth with a trio of four and five stage works at Gulfstream. He looked good in his last breeze, being pushed slightly through the wire but doing it on his own. Romans gets 11% winners on layoff with 3-year-olds. Lower exotic.
giant game (15-1) disappointed with the Holy Bull, his first start after a layoff. Coming off the outside, the Giant’s Causeway colt was used early to position himself and was in contention until they took the far corner and then Luis Saez ran out of horsepower. Corey Lanerie takes the mount as Saez opts for Emmanuel. Giant Game will be out of post 10, and it could be Holy Bull part two. Lower exotic.
(12-1) showed new dimension breaking the rail in the Holy Bull as Junior Alvarado pushed him into the lead. Unfortunately, the tactic backfired when Songbird’s little brother ran out of oats in the stretch and passed out in fourth, beaten at 5 1/2 lengths. Joel Rosario will have to arrange a trip from the outside, so he’ll either have to push Bill Mott’s intern into an argument or back off and look for a way to gain ground. Lower exotic.
high oak (8-1) returns to the stakes scene in his first start of the year after posting a recent 1:01.80 five-stadium gate job to Payson. Bill Mott’s trainee was last seen in fourth place, beaten 9 1/4 lengths by Gunite in the Hopeful (G1), after winning the Saratoga Special (G2). The Hopeful produced next winners Volcanic, who went on to finish third in the Sam F. Davis (G3) and Defend, an optional indemnity winner in Delaware. According to Stats Race Lens, Mott horses are up 23% in their first start after the stretching layoff. High Oak breaks from post 9 and will likely have a wide trip, so I think he will need the start. To throw.
Heroes of Rancher Futurity (G1) Rattle N Roll
(12-1) makes her long-awaited debut at 3 years old. Futurity gave Sam F. Davis (G3) the Classic Causeway winner, but that was about it. Rattle N Roll, who missed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with a hoof abscess, has a steady work slate at Gulfstream. Ken McPeek’s intern posted two sub-1:00 five-stadia works in the company of young girls; but, lathered like a shampoo commercial, he was pushed and cheered on both times and was overtaken by Creative Cause colt Creative Minister. McPeek earns 11% on the layoff. To throw.
(15-1) has a second case. The gelding bowed twice in the photo by a neckline and finished second by half a length in the Swale (G3). The apprentice of Michael Yates had every chance to pass in front of his rival but refused to pass. Dean Delivers has a sprinting pedigree, and Cajun Magic sire offspring is 0 for 21 at a mile and over, although four have hit the board. To throw.
Winner of the Pasco Stakes Markhamian
(20-1) did everything that was asked of him. After dueling at a fast pace in the Pasco Stakes, Juan Avila’s trainee was passed on the outside but came back late to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Markhamian should handle two corners, and the rail position suits his forward-placed racing style. But the knock against him is that he got his last pass from Pasco in a lousy 13.56. To throw.
O Captain (30-1) continued a blistering pace in the Limehouse Stakes and could do no better than a distant third, beaten at 8 1/2 lengths. With his scary journey complete, O Captain got his final stage of the six-stage race in 13.10. The Carpe Diem son won on his debut by nine lengths last August, but none of his rivals came back to win. To throw.
Positions 8-10 are usually the kiss of death in Gulfstream, but a good horse can win from the outside. Recently, Promises Fulfilled (2018) and Ete Indien (2020) left positions 9 and 10 respectively. Both took the lead and continued.
Since 2008, no Fountain of Youth winner has finished worse than fourth in their previous start, and only two have earned a layoff.
The last winning favorite was Mohaymen (2016), although two since have finished third.
2. Simplify (7-2)
7. The Secret of the PA (20-1)
8. Immanuel (9-2)
6. In due time (6-1)