Each week, we will discuss the horses running in 3-year-old stakes who we feel will give you a run for your money at a good price, and some who might be worth watching in the weeks to come.
We'll start off with Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes, which is divided into two groups: the stakes winners vs. the allowance horses who are trying to take that next big step up the ladder. So far, you pretty much know what you've got in the stakes winners. All are more than capable of winning on Saturday, but none appear to be standouts. The most solid choice on paper would have to be Harlan's Holiday.
Of the up-and-comers, the highly touted Stephentown will take most of the action; Blue Burner could be an interesting horse, but his speed figures are not very good, and the competition he's faced is suspect; Grey Beard beat a very good horse in Monthir last out, has apparently improved with blinkers, and is definitely a live play in here at a price. Remember, he did run a tick faster than Stephentown on the same card and beat a much better horse. But he has yet to win by more than a neck, so he could knock your nerves for a loop before you get to cash your ticket. Low dosage index, but dam was a sprinter.
If you're looking for a price horse who has demonstrated the capabilitiy of blowing by the field with one big run, then you might want to pay close attention to Speed Hunter. Although he is one of only two horses in the field who has yet to go two turns, it might be a risk worth taking. While his pedigree on the surface doesn't shout out 1 1/4 miles, it is important to note that he is inbred to three Belmont Stakes winners – Damascus, Sword Dancer, and Native Dancer – as well as to English Derby and St. Leger winner Nijinsky II. Not that that is going to win him the Fountain of Youth at 1 1/16 miles, but it does show he should have no problem stretching out to two turns. And if he can duplicate that big kick he's shown in past races, he could be a major factor in here. He defeated two very nice horses in his last start, run in a solid 1:23. And in his previous start, in which he was 5-wide, he was second to a horse has gone to win an allowance race at Oaklawn by 8 lengths and place in two stakes. The third-place finisher in that race came back to win an allowance race at Gulfstream by 6 lengths and earn a 99 Beyer speed figure.
As for the Risen Star, it's going to take a huge effort to knock off Repent, but if you're looking for a longshot to do it, or just to use in the back of exactas, then French Assault is one you want to consider.
The son of French Deputy has had two solid long works, so he should be fit and ready coming off a 2 1/2-month layoff. He has demonstrated an explosive turn of foot and we expect him to be ready for a big effort on Sunday. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he made a menacing move at the quarter pole, but couldn't sustain it, finishing sixth, beaten only 5 1/2 lengths by Johannesburg and 4 1/4 lengths by Repent. Not a bad effort for a 61-1 shot. In his last start, the Sam Houston Texan Juvenile, he exploded from last in an 11-horse field, circling horses, only to settle for second to the pace-pressing Jeremiah Jack over a spedd-favoring track. He looks like the play here if you're out to knock off the favorite. You're sure to get a big run for your money.
The unknown factor is Bob's Image, and if you want to take a chance that he's good as he's looked in his last two races, and is not going to get killed on the pace, then he's also a horse to consider playing around with at a price. He did beat two talented colts in his last start, so you never know.