Trainer John Ward, Jr. had his stakes-placed 3-year-old colt Holiday Thunder out for a six furlong trial on Friday. The son of Thunder Gulch was clocked in 1:14 4/5 and Ward was satisfied enough to say his next start would be in the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 17. "It was a good useful work and he finished up well," Ward said. "Mike Smith rode him this morning and he'll ride him for me in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. That's his next start."Holiday Thunder showed in his initial start he was a colt with a future. He broke his maiden in his debut at Saratoga on Aug. 3 then came back to finished second, beaten a neck, in an allowance race at that same track. He was shipped to Turfway Park in Kentucky where he was second behind Point Given in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3) on Sept. 16. Point Given was the runner-up, beaten a nose, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and is the future book favorite to win the Kentucky Derby.Holiday Thunder then was third in the Lanes End Breeders Futurity G2) at Keeneland on Oct. 8 and in his season finale, finished second behind Dollar Bill in the slop in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25. "He had a hard race in the mud in his last start in Kentucky," Ward said. "We decided to give him a breather. We thought about running him in the Hutcheson but that would be one more race than we want to run him. Our thoughts are to run him in the Fountain of Youth and if he does well then swing him right back in the Florida Derby."Right now a field of eight to 10 is in prospect for the mile and a sixteenth Fountain of Youth, a Grade 1 test that is scheduled three weeks before the 50th anniversary running of the $1 million Florida Derby, centerpiece of the Gulfstream Park season on Saturday, March 10.The Fountain of Youth is expected to attract several horses out of the Holy Bull (G3) that was run Jan. 20, including the three colts who were just a half-length apart at the line – Radical Riley, Buckle Down Ben and Cee Dee. Also expected out of that mile and a sixteenth test is Songandaprayer, the previously unbeaten colt who ran fifth after setting a torrid pace.
City Zip, who closed to within a half-length of Yonaguska in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G2) last week, could stretch out again for the Fountain of Youth if trainer Linda Rice gives the word.New shooters on the stakes scene include Outofthebox, an allowance winner here on opening day, Jan. 3, and two colts making their 2001 debuts – Holiday Thunder and Meetmeathebrig. Other possibles are Invisible Ink, who has won twice already at the Gulfstream meeting, and Scorpion, who has yet to run this year.The two major 3-year-olds in Florida are Macho Uno, who won the Eclipse Award as best 2-year-old colt, and A P Valentine, winner of the Champagne Stakes (G1) last season.Macho Uno was the 126-pound highweight on the Experimental Free Handicap and A P Valentine was weighted at 124. The two colts are among the future book favorites for the Kentucky Derby (G1).Trainer Joe Orseno got Macho Uno off the farm just 10 days ago and has not mapped out a schedule yet, but might decide to try an allowance race as a prep for the mile and an eighth Florida Derby. Nick Zito is also looking for an allowance event as the first start for A P Valentine.