(Edited press release)
Trainer Wesley Ward, who described the Feb. 14 breeze by Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 3-year-old colt Notonthesamepage as “perfect,” said he is excited to take the next step in the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 28. Early signs indicate the race will attract a deep and talented field of 3-year-olds.
Since winning the Jan. 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes in spectacular fashion, Notonthesamepage has been slowly building up to the one-mile, mid-winter test and Ward is very happy with the way his plan has unfolded.
“He’s had two trips to Ocala (for hyperbaric treatments) with a fast workout in between,” said Ward after the son of Catienus drilled five furlongs in 1:00 flat. “Everything he’s done has gone perfectly. He’s clean as a whistle. Certain things work for certain horses, and handling him the way we have has worked for him for sure.”
The Fountain of Youth is shaping up as a speedy clash, and Notonthesamepage’s last win came while running on the lead. That style is prominent in Ward’s thinking ahead of this next race as well as what may follow.
“I really think he’s going to be an unbelievable miler when all the dust settles,” said Ward. “This is going to be a great race for him. After we took the blinkers off him, he seemed to relax and he has raced behind horses, so we’re hoping he can adapt. But great milers, when you tell them to go, they go flat out through every jump of that mile. I think that’s what he can do.”
A big performance in the Fountain of Youth means there will be a huge push to go further down the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby (both gr. I) trails.
“This is going to be a very tough race,” said Ward. “None of us really knows about the longer distances yet, so we’ll see.”
With two big workouts under his belt, Paul Pompa Jr.’s Sunshine Millions Dash winner This Ones for Phil is also continuing to progress toward a showdown in the Fountain of Youth.
The 3-year-old son of Untuttable posted a 1:00 2/5 five-furlong breeze Feb. 13 and was happy and playful afterward according to trainer Rick Dutrow.
“He looks like he’s fine and he’s doing good,” said Dutrow Feb. 14. The trainer described the gelding’s previous breeze Feb. 7 as one of the best since the horse joined his barn.
“I still would have to agree with that today,” he said. “He was having some problems leading up to his last race, but since that race everything’s been good.”
This Ones for Phil pounced on the front-runners in the Sunshine Millions Dash before drawing clear to a 2 1/4-length victory. Dutrow says the pace scenario of the Fountain of Youth will suit his horse, but there are other important questions to answer in the one-turn mile contest.
“He’s got to prove he can measure up in a solid field,” he said. “We have to see how he fits with better horses. It seems like he does and he’s training like he does, especially over this track.”
Others working toward the Fountain of Youth include Samotowka Stables and partners’ Theregoesjojo, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 Feb. 14 at Gulfstream for trainer Ken McPeek.
Theregoesjojo is a son of Brahms who looked good winning a Jan. 10 allowance race at Gulfstream going seven furlongs by 2 3/4 lengths over highly-regarded Quality Road. Theregoesjojo was making his first start since finishing fourth in the Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs July 5, preceded by a winning debut in late May.
Also working Feb. 14 was Shadwell Stable’s undefeated Taqarub, covering five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 at Palm Meadows for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The son of Aldebaran has won all three of his starts at Aqueduct, most recently the Jan. 19 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes by 8 1/4 lengths.
Joseph Rausch and David Zell’s Capt. Candyman Can worked five furlongs in 1:02 at Palm Meadows for trainer Ian Wilkes Feb. 13.
Capt. Candyman Can is a Kentucky homebred chestnut gelding by Candy Rideand looked good winning the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 30 in his first start since a strong third to Beethoven and Giant Oak in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 29.
John Oxley’s Beethoven is on target for the Fountain of Youth and will be turning back in distance from a fourth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) going 1 1/8 miles Jan. 31 when he drew the far outside post position. Trained by John Ward, the son of Sky Mesa won three of five starts last year.
Salo Jak also worked Feb. 14 at his home base at Calder. Trainer by Gilberto Zerpa, the son of Graeme Hallwent five furlongs in 1:02 3/5. Sale Jak finished an even fourth behind Capt. Candyman Can in the Hutcheson after getting off to a slow start.