The $250,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) on Feb. 14 should provide a good deal of drama, as New York-bred Read the Footnotes takes on arguably the strongest Calder-based contingent ever assembled on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail.
Expected to face Remsen (gr. II) and Nashua (gr. III) winner Read the Footnotes in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth are Second of June and Silver Wagon, one-two in the recent Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III), and the undefeated Sir Oscar, winner of all six of his starts last year, including five stakes.
Read the Footnotes, trained by Richard Violette, has been working steadily at Palm Meadows, and most recently breezed a half in :48 1/5 on Jan. 27. Second of June, named after his own birthdate, which he shares with trainer Bill Cesare, has defeated last year's Hopeful (gr. I) winner Silver Wagon in his last two starts – the Holy Bull and What a Pleasure Stakes at Calder. But trainer Ralph Ziadie is anxious to try the Buckram Oak Farm-owned colt against Second of June again in the Fountain of Youth. The son of Wagon Limit lost his regular rider Jerry Bailey, who opted to stick with Read the Footnotes, and gets the services of Jose Santos.
Sir Oscar, trained by Manny Azpurua, has not run since his victory in the Jack Price Juvenile Stakes at Calder on Nov. 15. Prior to that, the son of Halo's Image swept Calder's Florida Stallion Stakes Series, winning the In Reality, Affirmed, and Dr. Fager divisions. He also captured the Criterium Stakes back on July 5.
Two possibilities for the Fountain of Youth are recent Gulfstream allowance winners Blushing Indian and Frisky Spider, both of whom could run instead in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) the same day.
Blushing Indian, third in last year's Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes, is coming off an impressive 7 1/4-length victory in a seven-furlong allowance race, while Frisky Spider extended his unbeaten streak to three after his second straight allowance victory, both at seven furlongs. Trainer Bob Durso had him gallop out an extra eighth of a mile after his victory on Jan. 24, but is on the fence as to which race he will point to.
Nick Zito, who has three top Kentucky Derby contenders in Birdstone, Eurosilver, and The Cliff's Edge, likely will pass the Fountain of Youth and look for allowance races. The Cliff's Edge has been targeted for the Rebel Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park.
Looking ahead to the Florida Derby (gr. I), trainer Bobby Frankel is scheduled to ship former European colt Master David from California. The son of Grand Slam was second to Read the Footnotes in the Remsen in his U.S. debut, then was third in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita behind St Averil and Lucky Pulpit.
In the Bally's Las Vegas Kentucky Derby Future Book, Second of June is listed as the co-second choice (with juvenile champion Action This Day) at 12-1, behind Tapit and Lion Heart, who are both 10-1. Eurosilver is15-1 and Birdstone is 18-1. Read the Footnotes is currently rated at 30-1, as is Silver Wagon.