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3yr olds take center stage this Saturday as we return to the Derby trail. Gulfstream Park will host the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes where a field of 11 will compete for a $400,000 purse and the 50-20-10-5 derby point distribution. The race will be contested at 1-1/16 miles around 2 turns over Gulfstream’s dirt course.

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Gulfstream 1-1/16 mile races are a bit of a handicapping anomaly with a very short run into the first turn. This can give an advantage to early speed, as long as it can cross over to save ground. Since the turn comes up so quickly, speed that does not clear is usually hung wide and forced to cover extra ground. This effort can then allow closers to pick up the pieces as those wide early runners pay their price. In thirty 1-1/16 mile events at Gulfstream, 30% have been won wire to wire, while 37% were conquered by deep closers. An odd statistic for sure.

The pace this week will be contested by 3 of the top 4 morning line choices as well as some cheaper speed. Code of Honor (6/1), Vekoma (7/2), Hidden Scroll (9/5), and Union’s Destiny (30/1) have all posted outstanding early pace figures in their young careers. They may be joined by Frosted Grace (30/1) who has been mainly a sprinter, and Gladiator King (50/1) who set the early pace in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes and is coming in off of a turf sprint.

I see a hot pace for sure.

Hidden Scroll is making only his 2nd lifetime start and will break from post 7. The biggest threat to his position is Vekoma in post #5. Hidden Scroll should break sharply and immediately compete to cross over. If Vekoma goes with him, Hidden Scroll may be compromised. Epic Dreamer and Gladiator King, from posts 2 and 3 respectively, should also push the pace.

Inside of them, Code of Silence will break from the rail. He may have been too close to the hot pace in the Mucho Macho Man, where he finished 4th as the 0.80-1 favorite, and will be satisfied to sit 3rd or 4th while saving ground this week.

There will be more jockeying for position up the backside where two 10-1 shots will try to carve out a winning trip. Global Campaign from post 8 will be making his 3rd lifetime start after winning his maiden and an optional allowance affair, both at Gulfstream. In each race, Global Campaign was untested and won easily. In his 2nd victory, jockey Luis Saez had his feet in the dashboard and never asked this colt for his best. I would think he would have more ability than he has shown, but I am cautious because he has posted several bullet workouts, all breezes, and may have given his all even without seeing the whip.

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The other 10-1 shot, Bourbon war, is the horse I landed on. Bourbon War has won 2 of 3 lifetime starts, with his only loss coming in Aqueduct’s G2 Remsen. In the Remsen he covered some extra ground behind a dawdling pace, ultimately finishing 4th. As the 3/2 favorite in his next outing, Bourbon War showed some maturity when he sat 7th of 9 behind another slow pace and was able to be weave his way through traffic for the win. In spite of the slow pace, the final Brisnet speed figure for the race was very respectable. It is this level of maturity in a young horse that leads me to believe he can keep improving.

Let’s take Bourbon War for the win.