One of the most historical Kentucky Derby races will run this weekend. It is the $400K Fountain of Youth Stakes, scheduled for Saturday February 27th at Gulfstream Park.
It's a grade two event on the dirt, going one mile and one-sixteenth, with the winner earning 50 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points, plus a tidy $400K into the bargain.
The Fountain of Youth has produced Kentucky Derby winners in the past, such as SPECTACULAR BID in 1979, THUNDER GULCH in 1995, and, more recently, ORB in 2013. It is also a common prep for the Florida Derby which is run one month after.
Let's consider the probables for Gulfstream's prestigious race: TARANTINO, JIRAFALES, PAPETU, MOONLITE STRIKE, DRAIN THE CLOCK, GREATEST HONOUR, and FIRE AT WILL.
First up, FIRE AT WILL joins the fray for trainer Michael Maker and is likely to be ridden by Ricardo Santana - who rode him to victory in last fall's Breeder's Cup Juvenile Turf. FIRE AT WILL hasn't run since that race, and without much dirt or two turn experience yet, the layoff could be concerning. But he is our BC Juvenile Turf hero and knows where the finish line is. He'll have to deal with GREATEST HONOUR - who's got some solid foundation to him. He's routed in his last three races, two of which he has won. His most recent effort was the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) which he won convincingly. He will likely be the betting favorite.
DRAIN THE CLOCK is an interesting player for trainer Saffie A Joseph Jr. He's won two in a row, for three wins total at Gulfstream track. But he's only raced around one turn so far. He'll have to answer the same question as his half brother, JACKIE'S WARRIOR, which is: can the MACLEAN'S MUSIC offspring score at two turns?
Saffie A Joseph Jr. also sends out MOONLITE STRIKE, who was seen finishing fourth to CADDO RIVER in the Smarty Jones Stakes. He ran three-wide for most of his trip before flattening out. He will need to improve to be competitive with this field.
TARANTINO is an interesting player for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. He ran his highest figure in his last race, the Holy Bull Stakes, where he outran his odds of 13-1 and finished second to GREATEST HONOUR. This was TARANTINO's first start on dirt. He actually broke his maiden at Santa Anita before shipping East. Two wins and two seconds from four starts — the talent is there!
PAPETU is a probable for trainer Antonio Sano. The son of DIALED IN won his first two starts in a row before running into some monsters, JACKIE'S WARRIOR, MUTAASABEQ, GREATEST HONOUR, and now he is winless in his last four tries. But PAPETU comes in from a decent effort in the Holy Bull Stakes. He took in money and was the third favorite by the time the gates opened. His sire won the Florida Derby at this track, which was contested at one mile and one eighth, so the distance isn't so concerning and he's shown his affinity for Gulfstream Park.
JIRAFALES is a probable for trainer Gustavo Delgado. The 3-year-old colt by SOCIAL INCLUSION also comes into this race having run in the Holy Bull Stakes. He was the longest shot on the board and had a slow start, but still was able to finish fifth, ahead of SITTIN ON GO. The Holy Bull Stakes was only JIRAFALES' second start! He's liable to improve off that class test.