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Buddy's Saint Heads Fountain of Youth

Robert LaPenta and Jacks or Better Farm’s Jackson Bend and Kingfield Stable’s Buddy’s Saint rank high on most lists of leading Kentucky Derby (G1) prospects currently and will meet for the first time in Saturday’s $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park in the deepest field of 3-year-olds assembled anywhere in the nation at this point in the season.

The 64th edition of the Fountain of Youth at 1 1/8 miles will headline an outstanding afternoon of racing at Gulfstream that also will include renewals of the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) for older horses at one mile on turf and the $100,000 Honey Fox Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.

Jockey Jeremy Rose gets a return call on Jackson Bend for trainer Nick Zito in the Fountain of Youth after a good showing when they teamed up to finish a game second in the one-mile Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on Jan. 23. The race marked his first start of the season following a majority interest purchase by LaPenta last fall.

Jackson Bend is a chestnut colt by Hear No Evil bred in Florida by Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm. He was the leading 2-year-old developed and raced at Calder last year winning five straight after a runner-up debut for trainer Stanley Gold. The year was topped-off with a dramatic 2 ¾ lengths victory in the $400,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes going 1 1/16 miles after stumbling and nearly losing his rider at the start.

While Jackson Bend has a race over the track under his belt, Buddy’s Saint will be making his first appearance since an impressive 4 ¾ lengths victory in the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct on Nov. 28 for trainer Bruce Levine. Jockey Jose Lezcano rode the Saint Liam colt in all three of his juvenile starts and retains the mount Saturday.

Buddy’s Saint was a $100,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase who finished first by a head in his career debut on Sept. 26 at Belmont Park going 6 ½ furlongs after ultimately being disqualified to second. Levine jumped him up to make his second start in the one-mile Nashua Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct on Nov. 7 while still technically a maiden. He responded with a 12-length romp, three weeks prior to the Remsen.

While Jackson Bend and Buddy’s Saint will likely attract the most support in the field of 10, there will also be backers for Flying Zee Stable’s Pulsion, Mike Smith; and trainer Todd Pletcher’s duo of Zayat Stable’s Eskendereya, John. R. Velazquez; and Dogwood Farm’s Aikenite, Alan Garcia

Pulsion also will be making his first appearance of the year for trainer Patrick Biancone. The $250,000 OBS March 2-year-old purchase was last seen finishing 11th of 13 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 7 with a very rough trip in the first turn.

Pulsion established his credentials finishing a game second in the Norfolk Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita the month before behind Lookin at Lucky. Pulsion was to have had an allowance tune-up for the Fountain of Youth last month, but was scratched with a slight cough. He has posted several sharp workouts since then, including five-eighths in 59 3/5 over the track Tuesday morning.

Eskendereya is a $250,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Giant’s Causeway who looked good winning a one-mile allowance test over the track going wire-to-wire on Jan. 7 in his first outing since finishing ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He had won the ‘off the turf’ Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont in October going a mile by 7 ¼ lengths in his previous start.

Aikenite has plenty of stakes experience, finishing third in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, second in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and a good fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, beaten only 2 ½ lengths. However, the $225,000 OBS February 2-year-old purchase by Yes It’s True will look to improve on a rather dull sixth-place try in the Holy Bull behind Winslow Homer and Jackson Bend.

Zito and LaPenta also will be represented by Ice Box to be ridden by Joe Bravo. The $125,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Pulpit won a hard-fought victory in an allowance on Jan. 18 after breaking his maiden going two turns at the Meadowlands on Oct. 30 after three tries in one-turn races at Saratoga and Belmont.

Completing the field for the Fountain of Youth are Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Pleasant Prince, Julien Leparoux; Casa Farm’s Prince William I Am, Paco Lopez; Kisber Dark Horse Stable’s Positive Split, Edgar Prado; and Michael Bruder and Frank Jones, Jr.’s Lost Aptitude, Rajiv Maragh.

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Older Comments about Buddy's Saint Heads Fountain of Youth ...

Look for a big race from Aikenite. Pulsion could make some noise, too.
I think Buddy's Saint is the biggest bet-against of the GP meet so far.
Agree Cigar. Gotta try to beat Buddy's Saint. Looking for some value with Eskendereya.
Interesting race... one has to bet against Buddy's Saint... slow Beyer, slow come home, first start back etc.

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