Nine 3-year-olds were entered for Saturday's $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I), Gulfstream Park's traditional send off on the road to the Triple Crown. The field is so diverse that the 5-2 morning line favorite, Whywhywhy, hasn't started since a 10th-place finish in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) last October at Arlington Park.
Of course, the son of Mr. Greeley did win three graded stakes in a row in New York last year: the Flash (gr. III), Sanford (gr. II), and Futurity (gr. I). All of those races were around one bend, and he'll be asked to travel around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth before a nationally-televised audience.
The Fountain of Youth will be shown live on ESPN as the initial segment of the "Citgo Racing to the Triple Crown" series that will air from 5-6 p.m. EST.
Trained by Patrick Biancone, Whywhywhy is co-owned by Biancone and Fabien Ouaki. Out of the Quiet American mare Thorough Fair, Whywhywhy was bred in Kentucky by James E. Jones.
Biancone shipped Whywhywhy from his base at Santa Anita in Southern California. "He shipped good, slept good and ate good this morning," Biancone said at Gulfstream Thursday. "I'm just taking him out to the track and let him jog along a bit this morning. He'll just gallop up to the race." Biancone had Whywhywhy breeze six furlongs in a slow 1:18 1/5 at Santa Anita last Sunday. "It wasn't any more than a two-minute lick and I'm surprised they even timed the workout."
Whywhywhy will face another Southern California shipper in the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Ozzie Cat. With Pat Day named to ride Overbrook Farm's Ozzie Cat is listed at 10-1 on the morning line and will break from post 3. Although he has just one win under his belt, Ozzie Cat did finish second, by a neck, in his last start, the Golden Gate Derby (gr. III) in Northern California. By Storm Cat, Ozzie Cat is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Hopespringsforever.
The local contingent for the Fountain of Youth appears to be a hard-knocking bunch, led by Offlee Wild, Ten Cents a Shine, Trust N Luck, and Supah Blitz.
Offlee Wild was wild on the track Wednesday morning, tearing through a :57 4/5 workout for trainer T.V. Smith. Bred by Dorothy Matz, Offlee Wild is by Wild Again out of the Seattle Slew mare Alvear and is owned by Azalea Stables. Offlee Wild shook up the South Florida 3-year-old picture with a stunning head victory in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) on Jan. 18 at 27-1. Mark Guidry, who was aboard the colt for the first time in the Holy Bull, returns on Saturday.
Offlee Wild has a 2-1-0 slate from four career starts. He broke his maiden by five lengths in his second attempt on Oct. 27 at Churchill Downs and followed that up with a runner-up effort against allowance foes in mid-November. The Holy Bull effort was his last.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Ten Cents a Shine enters the fray off a dead-heat win in a two-turn allowance test at Gulfstream on Jan. 13. The son of Devil His Due out of the Honey Jay mare Aunt Mottz, was making just his third start in that effort. At 2 he ran a super effort to finish second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs in just his second career start. Ten Cents a Shine was bred in Ohio by H. Ray Horn and the Devil His Due Syndicate.
Jerry Bailey will ride for trainer Kenny McPeek. McPeek finished second in this race a year ago with Harlan's Holiday.
Trust N Luck, a Florida-bred son of Montbrook, comes off an impressive 11-length, wire-to-wire score in the What a Pleasure Stakes at Calder on Dec. 14 at the Fountain of Youth distance. A two-time stakes winner and four-time winner from eight starts, Trust N Luck has earned $382,800 for owner Einar Robsham and trainer Ralph Ziade. Last year, he won the $400,000 Florida Stallion In Reality Stakes at Calder, again at 1 1/16 miles. Local hero Cornelio Velasquez will ride.
Bee Bee Stables and Jacqueline Tortora's Supah Blitz has the experience edge in the Fountain of Youth, having made 12 starts already in his young career. A son of Mecke, Supah Blitz won the Jack Price Juvenile Stakes for Florida-breds on Nov. 16 and has placed in seven stakes including the NTRA Great State Challenge Juvenile Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park and the Tropical Park Derby (gr. III) at Calder. He ran fifth in Trust N Luck's In Reality victory.
Fountain of Youth (gr. I), Feb. 15, Gulfstream Park, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, $200,000, televised live on ESPN (5-6 p.m. EST)
PP, Horse, Jockey, ML
1, Supah Blitz, Rosemary Homeister Jr., 12-1
2, Ten Cents a Shine, Jerry Bailey, 4-1
3, Ozzie Cat, Pat Day, 10-1
4, Midway Cat, Jorge Chavez, 8-1
5, Whywhywhy, Edgar Prado, 5-2
6, Trust N Luck, Cornelio Velasquez, 3-1
7, Conservation, Jose Santos, 12-1
8, Seek Gold, Eibar Coa, 20-1
9, Offlee Wild, Mark Guidry, 6-1