Head to Head: Handicapping the 2020 Fountain of Youth Stakes

Head to Head: Handicapping the 2020 Fountain of Youth Stakes
Photo: Lauren King/Gulfstream Park

The Fountain of Youth Stakes is the second of three stops on the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail through Florida, awarding qualifying points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to its top-four finishers.  

On Saturday at Gulfstream Park, a field of 12 3-year-old colts and geldings will go 1 1/16 miles, with this race marking the return of Dennis' Moment, the expected favorite.

Laurie Ross of Pedigree Power and Ashley Tamulonis of Coast To Coast sort out the contenders from the pretenders.

ASHLEY

LAURIE

 
#1
CANDY TYCOON
 

It took this colt a little while to put it all together, but he was a flashy gate-to-wire winner at Gulfstream in his last outing. His early running style and rail draw will both be advantageous, but this is a rather significant class jump. Exotics.

Candy Tycoon improved dramatically in his first try around two turns. He has speed on the rail, always dangerous at Gulfstream. The knock? His works since the win are slightly slower. Also, no last-out maiden winner has captured the Fountain of Youth in more than a decade. Still, it’s Pletcher. Exotics.

 
#2
MAKABIM
 

One simple question: Why? Try as I might, I cannot find anything to make me think that this gelding’s 50-1 morning line odds are anything but generous. Pass.

I agree with Ashley. Makabim has difficulty beating lower level claimers. He’s a one-paced sort, that pace being too slow. Pass.

 
#3
MASTERDAY
 

A debut winner, Masterday has already been bested by Holy Bull (G3) runner-up Ete Indien. He was nowhere near the returning rival that day, and I fully expect the same result here. Pass.

Masterday was also no match for eventual Risen Star (G2) third-place finisher Ny Traffic in his last start. The Gilberto Zerpa trainee barely held on for second place over a horse who has one win in five starts. Further, his Brisnet Speed Ratings have declined in each of his last three starts. Pass.

 
#4
THE FALCON
 

Still a maiden, The Falcon has been beaten by less than length total in both losses. His speed figures, however, leave quite a bit to be desired, and he is very much out of his league here. Pass.

 

The Falcon made a wide, sustained drive from last place to just miss at a mile at Turfway in his last start. His Brisnet figures aren’t that great, and there’s little class in the first few generations of his distaff line. Another slow one-paced grinder. Pass.

 
#5
DENNIS' MOMENT
 

The beaten Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favorite finally returns, kicking off his 2020 campaign as the morning line favorite here. Ultra-impressive at times as a 2-year-old, Dennis’ Moment lost both the Juvenile and a probable Eclipse Award at the break of that race. Trainer Dale Romans looks to have him ready to fire a winning shot, making him a legitimate win contender.

Dennis' Moment was considered the greatest thing since sliced bread right up until the starting gate opened in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The Romans trainee gets a class check. Yes, he won the Iroquois (G3), but it was a weak race. Runner-up Scabbard has been off the board in three stakes since. Worried about the layoff? Don’t be, as Romans stole the 2018 Fountain of Youth with the front-running Promises Fulfilled. Dennis' Moment doesn’t need to win, and I’m on the fence about him. Exotics contender.

 
#6
AS SEEN ON TV
 

Never out of the exacta, As Seen On Tv owns a state-bred stakes win and a pair of second-place finishes in listed company. His speed figures are equal to the best in this field, but this will mark his two-turn debu, as well as a sharp jump in class. Use underneath.

As Seen On Tv checks all the boxes as the previous Fountain of Youth winners. Second off a layoff? Check. In the money in his last start? Check. Pace-pressing style? Check. He has the pedigree and class to easily handle these. Win contender. 

 
#7
COUNTRY GRAMMER
 

Trained by Chad Brown, Country Grammer turned a so-so turf debut into a convincing dirt win at nine furlongs back in November. The final time was quite slow, and the colt has not raced since. His recent works have been good, but I think a graded stakes debut in New York would have been easier than shipping down for this spot. Pass.

Country Grammer missed the Remsen (G2) in December because of a fever. His work tab in Florida is decent, but I’m skeptical of the final times. How many horses breeze exactly :49.40 three weeks in a row? Still, it’s Brown/Castellano, who have a 29% win rate together. Exotics.

 
#8
GEAR JOCKEY
 

Still a maiden, Gear Jockey is looking to prove he's more than just filler in this field. The kicker is, he's Grade 1-placed from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The grass looks like a better spot for him.

At first glance, Gear Jockey looked puzzling here, as his only off-the-board finishes came on dirt. But take a look at his last start at a mile. On the far outside in a field of 11, he broke outward, costing him about a length. He hustled up into contention through strong early fractions, ran wide around the turn and started to run out of oats halfway down the stretch. Yes, his form is better on the lawn, but in his second-to-last breeze, which was a bullet, this guy stretched out like a dirt horse and did the work with little urging. He’s a Calumet homebred with Claiborne back-class. His second dam is a half-sister to Stroll. He could be an exotics bomb.

 
#9
LIAM'S LUCKY CHARM
 

By Khozan, Liam’s Lucky Charm stretched out for the first time in the second division of the Risen Star (G2). To say he didn’t fare well is a bit of an understatement. That was his first excursion outside of Florida, but I think it was the distance more than the track that was the issue. Pass.

Liam's Lucky Charm has been a thorn in Chance It’s side, but only at shorter distances. Note that the Ralph Nicks trainee's only wins came when he had an uncontested early lead. Pass.

 

 
#10
SHOTSKI
 

Remsen winner Shotski will have his work cut out for him trying to get to the lead from post 10. He got caught in the final sixteenth of the 1 1/8-mile Withers (G3) last out, but he had the lead from the gate there. Shippers from Aqueduct do not typically fare well at Gulfstream, but I can see Shotski getting a minor award. Use underneath.

It’s a good thing that Shotski can handle the distance. The pacesetter will use energy early to get to the front. This is his second start off a layoff, and he’s a Grade 2 winner. Looks good, right? Not so fast. Unless he’s within a length of the lead, he doesn’t win. I agree with Ashley: minor award at best.

 

 
#11
ETE INDIEN
 

I liked Ete Indien in the Holy Bull, an inkling he backed up with a smart runner-up finish. His speed figures are at the top of the class for this field, but I cannot deny that post 11 will be a handicap for his early running style. Good horses overcome adversity, though, and this colt does really seem to like the Gulfstream track. Contender.

Ete Indien doesn’t need the lead to win, but he’s hampered by the post. Second to Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull, Ete Indien finished 11 1/2 lengths ahead of the rest of the field. If the Biancone trainee had drawn more inside, he’d be a win contender. Instead, exotics.

 
#12
CHANCE IT
 

Chance It may scratch after drawing the far outside post, which is quite a shame considering how much of this field is simply filler signed on at the entry deadline. However, as I said with Ete Indien, good horses overcome obstacles. Should he run, Chance It stands a good chance of doing well. He’s never been out of the exacta, with all his starts coming at Gulfstream, and handled his jump to open company just fine in the local Mucho Macho Man. If he does run, do not ignore simply due to the poor draw.

Chance It had everything going for him. He beat up on state-breds, turned back As Seen on Tv in the Mucho Macho Man and bested Sole Volante, the future winner of the Sam F. Davis (G3). Then Chance It drew far outside. He doesn’t need the lead, but unless jockey Tyler Gaffalione can get Chance It closer to the rail, they’ll be wide the entire way. Exotics contender.   

 


Final Thoughts

Laurie:
Outside posts are the kiss of death at Gulfstream. In the last dozen years, only two horses won from the outside, and that was post nine. Only two won the Fountain of Youth first off a layoff. I like Dennis’ Moment; he’s a talented horse. I also realize this isn’t his goal, and perhaps he isn’t 100% cranked. I don’t like leaving Candy Tycoon off my top four, so factor him in if Chance It defects.

Ashley: Gulfstream managed to put together a large field for this year’s Fountain of Youth, but they sure scraped the bottom of the barrel to do it. That, unfortunately, left some legitimate runners parked wide in a setup that is not kind to those drawn from post 10 outward. However, I’m a firm believer that the cream will rise to the top, so if the talent is truly there, it will show. Dennis’ Moment won the post draw battle, but I’m looking elsewhere in terms of value and race day fitness.



Selections

 

Ashley
  

 
Laurie
  

#11 ETE INDIEN  (8-1)

#6 AS SEEN ON TV (9-2)

#5 DENNIS’ MOMENT (2-1)

#11 ETE INDIEN  (8-1)

#10 SHOTSKI (10-1)

#5 DENNIS’ MOMENT (2-1)

#12 CHANCE IT (7-2)

(#6 As Seen On Tv if Chance It scratches)

#12 CHANCE IT (7-2)

(#1 Candy Tycoon if Chance It scratches)



Meet Laurie Ross


 HRN Pedigree Analyst 

 Handicapper 

 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

 Pedigree Analyst – Bruno With The Works 

 ThoroFan Advisory Board Member

 Member – NTWAB


Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 


I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
Facebook: IMTBreds
LinkedIn: Laurie Ross

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