Scat Daddy's Late Scamper Wins Fountain of Youth
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 3/3/2007 8:02:17 PM
Last Updated: 3/9/2007 7:48:00 AM

Overlooked Scat Daddy scampered to victory in the Fountain of Youth.
Photo: AP/Equi-Photo/Bill Denver
Scat Daddy, somewhat overlooked in trainer Todd Pletcher's rich stable for this year's Triple Crown trail, stormed from far back to tag the tough-luck loser Stormello by a nose in the final stride of Saturday's $350,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.

Pletcher won five races at Gulfstream Saturday. Earlier, Pletcher's King of the Roxy won the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II), another Derby prep race. Of the nine 3-year-olds he ran, five won, two placed second and one finished third. Pletcher leads all trainers with 32 horses nominated for the Triple Crown this year

"Scat Daddy overcame a lot to wear down a nice group of horses," Pletcher said. "I never doubted he could go two turns."

The West Coast invader Stormello, who set a fast pace under Kent Desormeaux while pressured throughout by Adore the Gold, put away that rival as well as the prohibitive favorite Nobiz Like Shobiz at the eighth pole, but the weary warrior came up a stride short at the wire in a terrific race. Scat Daddy, closing in the middle of the track after making a four-wide move on the final turn, won in a time of 1:49 for the 1 1/8-mile event.

"We took the overland route, but it was our only choice," Pletcher said. "Considering the inside bias, he overcame a lot to get it done."

Ridden by John Velazquez, Scat Daddy was taken back shortly after the start as Stormello hustled away to take a two-length lead into the clubhouse turn. Stormello set quick fractions of :23 1/5, :46 and 1:09 4/5, but could not shake loose of Adore the Gold or Nobiz Like Shobiz, who shadowed the pacesetter into the stretch. Under frantic urging from Desormeaux, Stormello did manage to inch away from those two approaching the wire. But Scat Daddy, overcoming a wide trip, won the photo with Nobiz Like Shobiz, the 3-5 favorite ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, finishing one-half length behind in third.

“I couldn’t have planned it better.  I wanted to get into good position early and follow Cornelio (jockey Velasquez on Nobiz Like Shobiz) to the head of the lane and run him down.  (Scat Daddy) was running hard through the stretch.  He was coming little by little and he got there.”

“He was very fresh, but still it was a very good effort on his part – tough beat," Desormeaux said. "I never wanted to be on the front end with him. He left (gate) like a quarter horse. I did the best I could to get him to settle, and give me a quiet ride. I think it’s a good effort on his part, but it still hurts. It’s an aggravating defeat.”

Trainer Barclay Tagg, who in 2003 trained Funny Cide to victories in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), has called Nobiz Like Shobiz his ideal Triple Crown contender.

After the third-place finish, Tagg said he wasn't sure where the colt would race next.

"I think he's a good horse," he said. "I don't know why he ran like that. The jock said he was lugging in at the top of the stretch, and you lose a little ground when you straighten him out. The whole thing surprised me. I thought he'd lay third, then go to the front and win. I thought we'd go to the Wood Memorial (gr. I on April 7), but now I don't know."

Adore the Gold and Edgar Prado settled for fourth after taking the lead briefly from Stormello in upper stretch, one length behind Scat Daddy.

Scat Daddy, third behind winner Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Holy Bull (gr. III) on Feb. 3, has won two of three races in their rivalry. Pletcher said media attention might shift a bit.

"I can't speak to anyone else's horses, but I didn't feel like our horse got the respect he deserved coming into the race," Pletcher said.

Scat Daddy won the one-turn Champagne (gr. I) at Bemont Park Oct. 14 but disappointed in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) when finishing fourth, 15 lengths behind the runaway winner Street Sense at Churchill Downs. The dark bay son of Johannesburg--Love Style (Mr. Prospector) returned to action this season in the one-mile Holy Bull over the Gulfstream main track. Scat Daddy has won four of seven starts with earnings of $734,300. He earned $210,000 Saturday for owners James Scatuorchio and Michael Tabor.

Bred in Kentucky by Axel Wend, Scat Daddy was a $250,000 Keeneland yearling.

The narrow second choice over Stormello, Scat Daddy paid $13.80, $6.20 and $2.80. Stormello, making his first start since winning the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) for trainer and part-owner William Currin, returned $6.20 and $3. The exacta paid $75.20. Nobiz Like Shobiz, who lost for just the second time in five starts as one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), was worth $2.10 to show.

Following Adore the Gold was Hal's My Hope, Drums of Thunder, Meritocracy, Divine Master and Johannesburg Star.

(Chart, Equibase)


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