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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

My Favorite Fountains of Youth

Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily - Day 70

Ever since I was a very young racing fan, I have always looked forward to The Fountain of Youth Stakes. Perhaps as a youngster it was the catchy name that caught me eye, but as the first serious Kentucky Derby prep for the Eastern three-year-olds, no doubt it has been the stature of the race has kept me a fan. At this time of year I also begin to break off from what I learned from two-year-old seasons, and start to form new more timely hypothesis on who will shine under the twin spires. Much like Ponce de Leon, I embark on a quest, and my official quest to discover the top Derby horses before the next guy begins at the Fountain of Youth.

I have seen many outstanding horses contest Gulfstream Park's Fountain of Youth over the years. Here are some of my favorite memories:


1979 - Spectacular Bid was a favorite of mine from the very beginning, and did not disappoint as a juvenile. The Fountain of Youth would be proof pudding that he was going to be a great horse at 3. Setting the pace under young Ron Franklin, the Bid galloped away from runner-up Lot o’ Gold to win by 8 ½ lengths in the blistering time of 1:41 1/5.

1985 - Proud Truth became my choice for the Kentucky Derby when he announced himself with an impressive rally that carried him to victory in the ‘85 Fountain of Youth. Injuries and poor racing luck prevented the Darby Dan colt from doing much in the Triple Crown, but he did score in the second ever Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap off his excellent season.

1990 - Shot Gun Scott may have won the race, but it was here that I first fell in love with Frances Genter’s Unbridled. The big beautiful colt was bottled up like ketchup for much of the stretch, before busting through like a horse on a mission to miss victory by half a length. From that point on, I never doubted that he would be my Derby horse.

1995 - Thunder Gulch and Suave Prospect began their outstanding Spring rivalry with a memorable stretch drive in the ‘95 edition. It was Lukas against Zito, as the two colts fought it out head and head the entire stretch. Lukas and Thunder Gulch would get the win, as they would in the Derby and Belmont a little later that year.

1997 - Pulpit was a gorgeous son of A.P Indy who did not debut until January of his sophomore season. That did not prevent him from dominating the Fountain of Youth a month later in sparkling time. Unfortunately, physical issues kept the ultra talent from reaching his potential, but the Claiborne runner was as brilliant as anyone in the great foal crop of 1994 and has proved a superior sire.

Besides Spectacular Bid and Thunder Gulch, Kauai King and Tim Tam also used wins in the Fountain of Youth to propel themselves to winning two-thirds of the Triple Crown. Other notable winners of this race include Gen Duke, Bet Twice and Forty Niner, not to mention two colts who had their coming out parties in the last two editions, Quality Road and Eskendereya. Unfortunately neither of those colts would make it to the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

Will today’s Fountain of Youth show us something special and become an instant classic? We’ll find out in a few hours. Perhaps more importantly, will today’s race produce a Derby, Preakness, or Belmont champion? For that one we will have to wait a little, but we should get a better idea from how they run in one of my favorite Derby preps.



 

 

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Older Comments about My Favorite Fountains of Youth...

You were right, George ... and unfortunately, yesterday's race did not threaten to crack this list in any way.
been a long time since this race produced anything truly spectacular for the triple crown series. last 2 horses that won didnt even run in the derby...but I like soldat today...
It did seem to fall of a bit early this century, (notice the drop from grade 1) but as you said, Arazi, it might be back on the way up with the quality of recent winners. I'd say Swale came back pretty strong after the upset, sjuwill ;-) '95 was memorable for the battle, Tiz, and those two came back and repeated the fight in the Florida Derby. Probably helped toughen up Thunder Gulch for the tests ahead.
95 is high on my list...Always been a fan of Thunder Gulch and just in January finally got to see him up close and personal. Such a little fighter...Smarty reminded me of him.
Great post, Brian. You hit it right on the head. The Fountain of Youth is the true beginning of the serious Derby buzz. A great time of year and a great name. It is the time of year everyone starts looking for their Derby horse. However, I think Stronach really screwed up when they built Gulfstream at 1 1/8 miles and then moved it back a couple of weeks. It used to be that the Holy Bull was just an appetizer, and then the real Derby trail started in the middle of February. Now, with the longer distance, and trainers always looking for longer breaks, the FOY is like an appetizer, too. I think the list of recent winners reflects that, too. It's interesting that none of your favorite FOY's listed were in the last decade. While Eskendereya and Quality Road restored some luster the last two years, I think there was a definite dropoff from the 90's to the 00's.
true brian..this is the start of spring for me....so many races to watch to make that bet on the first saturday in may..my favorite dates back to 1984 when darn that alarm upset swale....i was a big woody stephens fan and he came back strong after that race
Hahahahaha ... Susie, I like your style! How's this ... Built for Pleasure, the '96 winner was an absolute monster!!!
No love for Built For Pleasure? That was maaaaadness!

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.