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Cerro Likely for Fountain of Youth

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

Team Valor International’s Cerro breezed five furlongs at Palm Meadows Sunday in 1:01.48 in preparation for a likely start in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth. With exercise rider David Nava up, Cerro worked in company with Went the Day Well. 

”I thought he went super, and we definitely plan to enter. As long as he gets a decent post position, we’ll run,” trainer Graham Motion said. “If he draws lousy, we won’t run him. We’ll go back to our original plan and run him in the Palm Beach.”

Cerro, who began his career on turf in Italy, defeated a solid group of runners in a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 26. Following his recent score, Team Valor International had set a schedule that included the $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) over the Gulfstream turf course on March 3 and the Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park on March 23. Recently, the Fountain of Youth entered the picture.

“I’d say partly because we saw so many of these horses skipping it,” Motion said. “You also have to bear in mind, when you start thinking about the points and all that, you don’t want to put your eggs in one basket and wait for the one race in Kentucky.”

Churchill Downs has instituted a new points system for qualifying for the Kentucky Derby field, replacing the former system based on graded-stakes earnings. The Palm Beach is not included in the new system.

“It just seems logical to take a shot in this race if things continue to go well,” Motion said. “We’ll see how he does. I wish it was a mile and an eighth. It’s probably the only thing I would change, only because he’s already been a mile and an eighth.”

Howe Great, who captured the Palm Beach last season, is being pointed toward next Saturday’s $150,000 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream.

“This seems to be a good spot to bring him back in. It’s not going to be an easy race by any means, but he obviously likes Gulfstream.” Motion said.

Last season, the son of Hat Trick went 3-for-3 on the Gulfstream turf, winning an allowance race and the Kitten’s Joy before defeating Dullahan in the Palm Beach. Howe Great hasn’t raced since finishing seventh in the Jamaica Handicap (G1) at Belmont on Oct. 6.

“He’s done well since we’ve freshened him up after the Jamaica. It was a weird race. It was very soft and I just don’t think he handled it,” Motion said. “We felt at that point, he’d had a long year. We brought him down here to freshen him up.

Speak Logistics Joins Cast for Fountain of Youth

Trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr., who has Trilogy Stables and his wife Laurie’s Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull Stakes (G3) winner Itsmyluckyday awaiting the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on March 30, will saddle Hardaway Stable's Speak Logistics in Saturday’s $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

“The timing is right,” said Plesa Sunday morning of Speak Logistics, who finished fourth with trouble in the Sam Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 2 in his first start since a seventh-place finish behind Shanghai Bobby in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

“After the Breeders’ Cup we gave him five weeks off on the farm in Ocala. He got shut off in the Sam Davis. He was making his move on the inside nearing the stretch and I thought he was going to go right on through. In any event, he’s doing good and we’ve got Joel Rosario to ride him. He had a good work here Saturday in 48 4/5 and galloped out good.”

A son of High Cotton, Speak Logistics earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup winning the In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Calder in mid-October after breaking his maiden in his second start last summer at Monmouth Park. The $62,000 OBS April 2-year-old sales purchase was beaten only 5 ¾ lengths for it all in the Breeders’ Cup.

Meanwhile, Plesa reports all is well with Itsmyluckyday since his stunning two-length victory over previously undefeated Eclipse champion Shanghai Bobby in the Holy Bull on Jan. 26. A son of Lawyer Ron, Itsmyluckyday had won the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby by 6 ¾ lengths in his previous start here on New Year’s Day.

“Everything has gone well for him,” said Plesa. “He’s been galloping every day and will have his first work since the race here on Friday, and then he’ll work again every six or seven days up to the race. A part of me says I wish the race (Florida Derby) was today, but in his case time is our ally. He’s got the two good races behind him.”

A defection from the probable field is Barry Butzer and Wachtel Stable’s My Name Is Michael, who finished third last out in the Sam Davis. Trainer Bill Mott said Saturday that the Canadian-developed son of Macho Uno had gotten sick and missed several days training.

Others currently listed probable for the Fountain of Youth are Team Valor International’s Cerro, Shadwell Stable’s Elmutahid, Rose Family Stable’s Joshua’s Comprise, Joseph Witek’s Majestic Hussar and Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb, the latter scheduled to work at Gulfstream Monday morning for trainer Shug McGaughey.

Majestic Hussar got his final workout in Sunday morning at Palm Meadows as he was timed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 for trainer Eddie Kenneally and Elmutahid went five-eighths in 1:00 2/5 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.



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