A deep and talented field has been entered for the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) , and when the dust finally settles on the Gulfstream Park oval Feb. 28, the still muddled Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) picture should become a little bit clearer.
The Fountain of Youth, which was shortened from nine furlongs to eight this year and serves as the final local prep for the March 28 Florida Derby (gr. I), drew a full field of 12. What makes the 3-year-old contest so intriguing is not only the number of quality runners, but their contrasting styles.
With the Fountain of Youth now at a mile, speed will play a major factor. And make no mistake about it, there is no shortage of speed in this one. Two of the fastest sophomores in the country will go to post--Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Notonthesamepage and Paul Pompa Jr.’s This Ones for Phil. Also expected to challenge on the front end is Shadwell Stable’s undefeated Taqarub, who ships in from New York for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
All mention of speed begins with Notonthesamepage, who turned in a jaw-dropping 8 1/4-length victory in the Spectacular Bid Stakes Jan. 3 at Gulfstream. The son of Catienus —Blue Holiday, by Cure the Blues, zipped through the six furlongs in 1:08.48 under Elvis Trujillo and earned a 114 Beyer Speed Figure.
Since his 3-year-old debut, Notonthesamepage has been firing bullets for trainer Wesley Ward Jr. Most recently, he turned in a sharp work Feb. 21 at Gulfstream, getting five furlongs in :59.40. Ramsey has also reportedly sent the chestnut colt to a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for regular treatment. Trujillo will ride again, and they will break from post 3.
According to the speed figures, This Ones for Phil ran even faster than Notonthesamepage in his 2 1/4-length Sunshine Millions Dash victory Jan. 24 at Gulfstream. The son of Untuttable earned a 116 Beyer for that score, in which he blazed six furlongs in 1:09.10 under Edgar Prado.
This Ones for Phil, trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., was heavily raced as a 2-year-old, going to post eight times with a pair of wins to show for it. One of those triumphs came in the one-mile Seacliff Stakes at Calder Race Course last September. Dutrow said before the draw that he hoped for an outside post, and that’s exactly what he got. This One for Phil drew post 12 with Prado getting the mount once more.
Taqarub has been perfect in all three of his career starts and the speedster has never trailed at any call. The Aldebaran colt has made all three of his starts at Aqueduct and each has come at six furlongs. Last out in the Jan. 19 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes, Taqarub wasn’t affected the least bit by a stumble at the break. He raced to the front, pulled away from his foes around the turn, and drew off for an eye-catching 8 1/4-length score while stopping the clock in 1:09.26 under Alan Garcia. Breaking from post 10 this time, Garcia will ride again.
Want more speed? It could come from Edward Evans’ Virginia homebred Quality Road . The son of Elusive Quality wired the field in his maiden-breaking score in November at Aqueduct, and then set the pace into the stretch of a seven-furlong allowance test at Gulfstream Jan. 10 before giving way to another current Fountain of Youth entrant, Theregoesjojo.
Trained by Ken McPeek, Theregoesjojo won that allowance contest by nearly three lengths under Kent Desormeaux. It was the son of Brahms’ second win in three lifetime starts. Like many of the current starters, he will be stretching out to a mile for the first time.
With all the speed in the Fountain of Youth, things could set up perfectly for a horse sitting just off the pace – perhaps the winner of the Jan. 30 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II), Capt. Candyman Can.
Joseph Rauch and David Zell’s Capt. Candyman Can received the perfect trip in the seven-furlong Hutcheson, laying just off a speed duel, and then taking over at the top of the lane. It was the second graded stakes win for Capt. Candyman Can, who also took the one-mile Iroquois (gr. III) in November at Churchill Downs. Ian Wilkes trains the son of Candy Ride . Leading rider Leparoux will be in the irons again.
A couple of promising colts will hope to rebound in the Fountain of Youth, most notably Eli Gindi’s Break Water Edison. Winner of the one-mile Nashua (gr. II) in November at Aqueduct, Break Water Edison finished a disappointing sixth in the Hutcheson – a full 11 lengths back of Capt. Candyman Can. The son of Lemon Drop Kid brings the most class into Saturday’s event, having run in graded stakes action in his last five outings. The John Kimmel trainee was runner-up in last summer’s Saratoga Special (gr. II) in his second career start.
Another colt looking to rebound is John Oxley’s Beethoven, who finished fourth in the Jan. 31 Holy Bull (gr. III) after winning three of his previous four starts. Beethoven is one of the few starters that will be cutting back in distance for the Fountain of Youth. The Sky Mesa colt’s last three efforts have come at over a mile. The bay colt has shown the ability to stalk or close from off the pace, which he did in victories at Churchill last fall. One was a narrow score in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), a race in which he took down Capt. Candyman Can.
A couple of horses that might be closing off a hot pace are Eddie Plesa Jr. trainee Bee Cee Cee, who rallied well to get up for third in the Hutcheson, and Jack Spratt, winner of the Jan. 17 Dania Beach Stakes, where he came flying four-wide in the stretch to score by a half-length. Cornelio Velasquez and Rene Douglas have the riding assignments, respectively.
Take the Points has won two in a row at the one-mile distance for Todd Pletcher, including a two-length score Jan. 31 at Gulfstream. With regular rider Prado aboard This Ones for Phil, Chris DeCarlo would take the reigns on the son of Even the Score , if he goes. Take the Points is cross-entered in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita on the same day. He is expected to ship to California on Thursday.
The Fountain of Youth will be race 9 on the Gulfstream card.Post time is 5:14 p.m. EDT.
$250,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II, Race 9, 5:14 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Bee Cee Cee (FL), 120, Cornelio H. Velasquez
2. Theregoesjojo (KY), 116, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Notonthesamepage (KY), 120, Elvis Trujillo
4. Take the Points (KY), 116, Christopher P. DeCarlo
5. Jack Spratt (KY), 120, Rene R. Douglas
6. Rocketing Returns (FL), 116, Jose Lezcano
7. Beethoven (KY), 122, Calvin H. Borel
8. Break Water Edison (KY), 122, Eibar Coa
9. Capt. Candyman Can (KY), 122, Julien R. Leparoux
10. Taqarub (KY), 120, Alan Garcia
11. Quality Road (VA), 114, John R. Velazquez
12. This Ones for Phil (FL), 120, Edgar S. Prado