The Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes run a week from Saturday at Gulfstream Park is shaping up to be a good one, and trainer Mark Hennig said the Kentucky Derby 2019 prep remains the goal for Bourbon Lane Stable’s and Lake Star Stable’s Bourbon War.
A son of Tapit out of Alcibiades (G1) winner My Conquestidory, Bourbon War proved himself last time at the Fountain of Youth's 1 1/16-mile distance with an allowance optional claiming win Jan. 18 over the surface. With Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, he rallied through traffic and split horses to draw away by 2 ¼ lengths.
“His last race I thought was an excellent great learning experience,” Hennig said. “Getting a win around two turns kind of propelled us forward to where we wanted to be at this point in the year.”
While stabled in New York, Bourbon War broke his maiden on debut Nov. 14 at Aqueduct. He came from off the pace to win going a mile and beat future stakes runner Moretti by 2 1/4 lengths. Bourbon War then stretched out to 1 1/8 miles in the Dec. 1 Remsen Stakes (G2) and finished fourth.
“I ran him back on short rest in the Remsen. It was just kind of circumstantial,” Hennig said. “He’d broken his maiden, the Remsen was coming up light, or what was perceived to be light, and we thought it was worth taking a shot.
“After that we just wanted to freshen him a touch, get him to Florida and point at something with some spacing in between since we had run him back so quick. That allowance race came up at the right time and fortunately it filled."
Hennig added Bourbon War has begun training more aggressively since shipping to Florida for the winter. The colt went from a “typical Tapit,” needing company to focus in morning workouts, to “all business.” .
“He’s great, for a Tapit, especially. He’s got a great mind,” Hennig said. “He’s easy to get along with. He’s tough. He’s a biter and tough that way, but as far as on the racetrack, nothing phases him and he enjoys his work every day, which makes my job easier.”
Ortiz Jr. will be back on board for the Fountain of Youth.
Bourbon War is among 43 nominated to the Fountain of Youth, with other headliners the Remsen winner and Holy Bull (G2) third-place finisher Maximus Mischief, Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner Signalman and Nashua (G3) winner Vekoma. Hidden Scroll, a 14-length winner on the Pegasus World Cup undercard, is also also likely to make his first start against winners.
Points toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate will be awarded on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the first four finishers.
El Camino Real Derby winner Anothertwistafate will switch to dirt for his next start, trainer Blaine Wright confirmed, with aims of qualifying for the Kentucky Derby.
Debuted for a $16,000 tag, Maximum Security merits a look from the Derby Radar given he has dismantled his opposition, most recently with an 18 1/4-length win Wednesday.
If Game Winner, Improbable and Instagrand really all run in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) on March 9, handicapper Reinier Macatangay believes there's a clear horse to beat given how the trio has trained.
In case you missed it...
Wednesday's Derby Daily report featured an interview with trainer Larry Jones on Super Steed's Southwest Stakes (G3) win and prospects going longer down the road.