Another spot in the gate at the Kentucky Derby is up for grabs this Saturday in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. 10 probable starters will traverse Gulfstream’s 1-1/16th mile dirt course around 2 turns looking for a share of the purse as well as the 50 Derby points allotted to the winner. Even though the winner’s 50 points will be enough to get to the Derby, The Fountain of Youth is viewed by many as a prep for the G1 Florida Derby later this month.
Gulfstream 1-1/16th mile races start perilously close to the 1st turn which makes early speed and position a big advantage. The rail post is winning at a 20% clip with 29% of winners going gate to wire.
This field has several speed options, starting from post 4 with Mark Henning’s Strike Power. Luis Saez will guide this 3yr old who is 2 for 2 lifetime, including a wire to wire win in the G3 Swale Stakes. Going for the lead with this colt will be Storm Runner, who will break from post 5, and the 2 outside horses, Machismo and Promise Fulfilled. Strike Power has not been challenged early in his 2 victories, both sprint tries here at Gulfstream, and his speed figures show he may be able to get loose up front again.
Stalking the front will be the G1 winners Free Drop Billy from post 2, and 7/5 morning line favorite, Good Magic, from post 6. Free Drop Billy won the G1 Breeder’s Futurity while Good Magic captured the G1 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile.
Chad Brown trainee, Good Magic, who has not run since his win in the BC Juvenile last November, can’t be counted out due to the layoff. Brown’s 27% winning percentage off of 90 day layoffs is right on par with his 26% overall winning percentage. However, with such a long layoff and the Florida Derby coming up later this month, I am betting that Brown is looking to take 2 shots with Good Magic and he may need this race as a tightener. With short odds, I will have to pass.
The horse I landed on is Free Drop Billy, at 9/2 morning line odds. His 2nd place finish in the G2 Holy Bull, also at Gulfstream, was a nice effort as he sat between horses, shifted 3-wide on the far turn, challenged the eventual winner at the top of the stretch, only to settle for a well beaten 2nd, 5-1/2 lengths back but 8 lengths ahead of the show runner. (The winner, Todd Pletcher’s Audible, passed on The FOY and will be training up to the Florida Derby.)
I am willing to overlook Free Drop Billy’s dismal showing against Good Magic in the BC Juvenile where he finished a brutally beaten 9th. It looks like an anomaly in his pp lines and he came back with a vengeance with his showing in the Holy Bull. It will be Free Drop Billy for the win.