Derby Prep Review – Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2)

We looked at the Gotham in our last post and in this one, we’ll tackle the Fountain of Youth, won emphatically by a last to first sweep from Gunnevera for trainer Antonio Sano under jockey Javier Castellano.

Race Replay 

Fractions – 23.43, 47.18, 1:12.37, 1:37.85, 1:44.25 (8.5 furlongs)
Winning Beyer – 97
Winning Margin – 5.75 lengths

Pace and Flow – Like the Gotham, this race featured a very fast pace that also fell apart. In fact, the top four finishers of the race were 10th, 7th, 1st, and 8th after a quarter mile of the race, with leader Three Rules holding on for third after running a very good race.

Gunnevera settled at the back of the pack and swept on by with a big wide blitz on the far turn.

On the Winner – As we noted in the preview, Gunnevera ran a very good race last time out in the Holy Bull, having to steady inside behind a very slow pace and he swung way out into the lane, with no chance from there to run down loose-on-the-lead Irish War Cry. This race set up much better for him with the fast pace up front.

It should be noted that he’s won three graded stakes in his young career – the 6.5 furlong Saratoga Special, the 8.5 furlong Delta Jackpot, and the 8.5 furlong Fountain of Youth. All three had very fast paces that fell apart. You could do worse that being a closer looking for pace in the Kentucky Derby, but we do think his best form has been exaggerated a bit by circumstances.

On the Runner-Up – Practical Joke had been off since a third place finish in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. He made the first big off the pace move in the race, took the lead and just flattened out as Gunnevera swept on by. It was a solid return off the bench without question and he’ll be one of the favorites in whatever prep he shows up in April.

On the Others – In order of finish…

Three Rules ran a great race in the context of the dynamics. Though he was beaten 6.25 lengths, he was the only one of the speed horses around at the finish (the others finished 7th, 8th, and 9th).

If it were up to me? I might run in the Florida Derby but then would be ready to turn him back into the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard and the Woody Stephens on the Belmont undercard.

Talk Logistics was able to clunk up for fourth but just sat well back off the fast pace and didn’t threaten. He ran better, I suppose, than last time, but he was aided by the fractions.

Lookin’ for Eight sat back off the fast pace and basically ran an even 4th – 5th all the way around, never really making a move. It was only his third career start, and it was probably a little too deep of a spot for him at this stage.

Quinientos was another who was well back and passed a couple but was simply aided by the fast pace.

Irish War Cry was the big disappointment of the race. First of all, he was incredibly overbet at even-money (he opened at 1-5!) after setting a slow pace wiring the Holy Bull field last time out. The Jersey-bred was up on the fast pace, yes, but he was basically all-in around the far turn and just didn’t have anything (he was beaten over 21 lengths).

No doubt about that. We’ll see where they bring him back, be it another Derby prep (with an extra week’s rest, which would seemingly mean the Wood Memorial or the Blue Grass) or elsewhere.

Takaful and Made You Look were both up close pressing the fast pace and were all done on the turn. The former seems likely to turn back in distance while the latter seems likely to return to the turf.

Quick Track Note – Saturday was a very windy day at Gulfstream (in fact the entire weekend was very windy), which made the track fairly loose and deep (watering had little effect because of the wind, which would quickly dry the surface). It’s hard to say the impact except the track was pretty slow.

What’s Next (Florida) – The Florida Derby caps their series of Derby preps on April 1st, four weeks from this race and five weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Gunnevera is slated to return there and Three Rules is possible though it’s likely Practical Joke comes back one week later, giving him five weeks between races.

What’s Next (Derby Trail) – Saturday is a big day on the Derby trail with the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and the San Felipe at Santa Anita, featuring Mastery (Los Alamitos Futurity winner) against Gormley.

 

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