The top two contenders for the G1-Florida Derby - Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby - have elected to bypass the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a move that opens the door for another horse in South Florida to stake a claim in the starting gate for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
Falling Sky, the gate-to-wire winner of the G3-Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 2, makes a quick return in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 23. (Post Time: 5:35 pm Eastern; TV: HRTV). He'll face 10 other three-year-old colts, including undefeated CashCall Futurity winner Violence.
Violence, a son of Medaglia d'Oro and a trainee of Todd Pletcher, broke his maiden in his debut at Saratoga on Aug. 18. From there, he racked up victories in the G2-Nashua at the Big A and the CashCall Futurity over the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park. The Fountain of Youth will be Violence's first start in 2013 after a series of works at the Palm Meadows Training Center over the last month and a half.
Among the horses joining Violence and Falling Sky in the Fountain of Youth are a couple of intriguing runners from Eddie Kenneally and Graham Motion. Majestic Hussar, the Kenneally trainee, stretches out for the first time after a couple of strong races at Gulfstream in mid-December and mid-January. Majestic Hussar's dam and his siblings were generally better on grass than dirt but I wonder if some of the stamina on the bottom half will help this colt get the distance in this spot.
Cerro (IRE), the Graham Motion trainee, began his career in Italy before shipping to North America to run in the G2-Pilgrim Stakes over the Belmont turf in early October. He followed up that effort with another lackluster race over the lawn at which point Motion decided to put this son of Mr. Greeley on the dirt. The transformation was quick as Cerro ran the two of the better races in his career in his first two tries over dirt. I especially like the fact that he seems to be improving as he's stretching out.
Speaking of horses that have improved when asked to cover more ground, Sky Captain finished second to Cerro in his first try at running two turns and he finished up willingly in the stretch, even if he couldn't get to Cerro. I think there is reason to believe Sky Captain could take a step forward from that race and he would certainly benefit from a little more pace in the early stages.
Below are the entries and post positions for the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream.
Morning line odds will be added when released.
|1||Orb||J. Velazquez||S. McGaughey||12/1|
|2||Joshua's Comprise||E. Prado||B. Rose||30/1|
|3||Violence||J. Castellano||T. Pletcher||9/5|
|4||Majestic Hussar||L. Saez||E. Kenneally||6/1|
|5||Elmutahid||J. Bravo||K. McLaughlin||20/1|
|6||Cerro (IRE)||J. Rocco||G. Motion||4/1|
|8||Speak Logistics||J. Rosario||E. Plesa, Jr.||12/1|
|9||He's Had Enough||M. Gutierrez||D. O'Neill||8/1|
|11||Sr. Quisqueyano||C. Olivero||L. Olivares||30/1|