Yesterday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes
was a thriller. We saw
two horses run amazing races, both looking like very solid, potential Derby
surprised me, as I was never a fan of his. He received a perfect
pace set up, but at the end he was the horse that closed the best, and came
running like a freight train. He deserves any accolades thrown his way, as does
his trainer Shug McGaughey
, and jockey Johnny Velasquez
. But make no mistake,
the best performance of the race was run by none other than Violence
The very game runner-up of the Todd Pletcher
barn sat just a
couple lengths off a wicked fast pace. Around the turn he was asked to pick up
the pace and confront the leader. With Cerro
just to his outside, he made his
assault on the lead. After six furlongs in 1.08.85, Violence was abreast the
leader, and as they turned into the straight, he surged to a commanding lead.
The story was set for the son of Medaglia D’Oro to become the Derby favorite
with an outstanding first win back. But, it was not to be as Orb came at him,
charging for the lead.
For a split second it looked like Orb would blow by Violence
and win with room to spare. Violence, however caught sight of his foe and
battled back, tough as nails, on the rail. He would only be beaten by half a
length, in the first defeat of his four race career.
Despite the fact that Violence was the only horse left, from
those near the pace, to run on, remember that this was only his first race back
since December. Every other horse had made there seasonal bow already, many of
them at this very track. Violence had never started over Gulfstream, was giving
six pounds to most of his competitors, including Orb, and had a lack of race
conditioning that his opponents didn’t.
Looking at those points, Violence’s effort was nothing short
of exceptional. Even with a lack of conditioning he was the only horse from
four who raced close to the pace to keep running. Even with a lack of
conditioning, giving weight, and making a rapid move into a suicidal pace, he
was still just beaten half a length. Cerro, who was coming off an impressive win over the Gulfstream track, moved with Violence when he made his bid for the lead, but Cerro wound up 6th, after making the same move.
When looking at all of the factors, one can only to one
conclusion. While both horses ran incredible races, Violence ran the best. He
had every reason to fold, and yet he kept running. Even when passed, he
reengaged and refused to stop. Violence loses nothing in defeat; in fact he
most likely ran the best race of his career yesterday. I expect him to only
move forward off of this race and to reinforce my belief that he is one of the
top Derby contenders on the trail.