Fountain of Youth Full of Stars
Photo: Coglianese Photos
The Fountain of Youth features a number of leading Derby contenders, including Remsen winner Court Vision.
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A star-studded field of 12 3-year-olds, highlighted by a pair of starters for trainers Bill Mott and Nick Zito, will contest the $350,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 24 at Gulfstream Park.

The Fountain of Youth, a 1 1/8-mile test on the dirt, will feature a number of leading Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contenders, including Remsen (gr. II) winner Court Vision, and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) winner Anak Nakal, both making their 2008 debuts for Mott and Zito, respectively.

In a surprise, Mott also entered Zayat Stables’ Z Humor, who returns only eight days after finishing a disappointing fifth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 16. Zito will also send out Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man, who was impressive during his Jan. 26 allowance victory at Gulfstream, which was run at 1 1/8 miles.

Other entries in the Fountain of Youth include Starlight Stables and partners’ Monba, who will make his 3-year-old debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, Halo Najib, who comes back just 13 days after capturing the OBS Championship in Ocala on Feb. 11, and Barclay Tagg trainee Elysium Fields, an El Pradocolt who broke his maiden at Gulfstream but will face his stiffest test to date. Pletcher won the Fountain of Youth last year with Scat Daddy.

Despite being unraced since the Dec. 22 Remsen at Aqueduct, IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm’s Court Vision was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite. A son of Gulch—Weekend Storm, by Storm Bird, Court Vision is 3-1-0 from four lifetime starts, his only defeat coming by a half-length in his debut.

Court Vision’s determined neck victory in the Remsen was preceded by a half-length score in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs. Bred by Will Farish and Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership, he will break from post three with Garrett Gomez in the irons.

Z Humor entered the Sam Davis off of an impressive dead-heat win on Dec. 7 in the Boyd's Gaming Delta Jackpot Stakes (gr. III), where he gamely held on after dueling for most of the 1 1/16-mile event. But after challenging for six furlongs in the Sam Davis, he tired at the top of the stretch and was not a factor. Cornelio Velasquez will ride him this weekend.

Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal has not started since the Nov. 24 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, where he prevailed over Blackberry Road by a half-length. The Victory Gallop colt has been working steadily for Zito at Palm Meadows, most recently drilling five furlongs in 1:00.80.

Anak Nakal, who is 2-1-0 from three starts, will break from post eight with Julien Leparoux aboard. He is 6-1 on the morning line.

Monba, to this point Pletcher's top Derby candidate, returns to dirt for only the second time in his career. The son of Maria's Mon won his only start on a conventional surface Nov. 24, scoring in allowance company at Churchill Downs. Most recently, the gray/roan colt made a late bid in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park but was too far off the pace and finished fourth by 2 1/4 lengths. Edgar Prado will ride the 4-1 second choice.

Halo Najib, a Florida-bred also owned by Zayat, made a decisive move in the stretch to take the OBS Championship on Safetrack, winning by 3 2/4 lengths. Trainer Dale Romans is convinced that the son of Halo's Image, who is the only non-Kentucky-bred in the field, is rested enough to come back for another big effort.

“He came out of his last race in such good shape and there’s still a month until the Lane’s End,” Romans said. “He’s here and just doing so well right now we figured we’d try and get some graded earnings while we can.”

Golden Spikes, fourth in the Hutcheson (gr. II), Michael Matz trainee Ready Set, Make the Point, Kentucky Bear, and Adriano complete the field.

$350,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II, Race 9, 5:15 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Cool Coal Man (KY), 118, Kent J. Desormeaux
2. Golden Spikes (KY), 116, Javier Castellano
3. Court Vision (KY), 122, Garrett K. Gomez
4. Kentucky Bear (KY), 116, Elvis Trujillo
5. Z Humor (KY), 120, Cornelio H. Velasquez
6. Ready Set (KY), 116, Jose Lezcano
7. Monba (KY), 116, Edgar S. Prado
8. Anak Nakal (KY), 120, Julien R. Leparoux
9. Elysium Fields (KY), 116, Eibar Coa
10. Halo Najib (FL), 120, Rene R. Douglas
11. Make the Point (KY), 116, John R. Velazquez
12. Adriano (KY), 116, Eddie Castro 
         

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