Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes marks an important step on the road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby with its 50 qualifying points to the winner likely enough to send that horse on to Churchill Downs this May.
A field of 12 entered the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park feature led by Dennis' Moment, the 2-1 morning line favorite who sandwiched impressive maiden and Iroquois Stakes (G3) wins between two debacles of starts, losing his jockey on debut before stumbling at the start of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Among other top contenders, Shooting Star Thoroughbreds’ Chance It, rated second at 7-2 after drawing Post No. 12, will enter the Fountain of Youth, having already won his 3-year-old debut. The Florida-bred colt, who hasn’t been worse than second in six career starts, fought back in deep stretch to capture the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Jan. 4.
Ete Indien enters the Fountain of Youth off a solid second-place finish behind Grade 1 winner Tiz the Law in the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Feb. 1. The gelded son of Summer Front set a pressure pace into the stretch before succumbing to Tiz the Law but continuing on gamely to finish 11 ½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Toledo.
Shotski will enter the Fountain of Youth with proven Grade 2 success around two turns, having captured the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 7. The son of Blame led throughout the 1 1/8-mile Remsen. In his Feb. 13 return to action at Aqueduct, Shotski set a pressure pace before faltering in the stretch to finish second in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct, 3 ¼ lengths behind Max Player.
Screen Door Stables LLC’s As Seen On Tv, who finished a head behind Chance It after holding the lead late in the Mucho Macho Man, is set for a return in the Fountain of Youth. The Kelly Breen-trained son of Lookin At Lucky, who has finished no worse than second in four starts, had previously captured the 6 ½-furlong Juvenile Sprint for Florida- breds at Gulfstream Park West.
Mathis Stable LLC’s Candy Tycoon, who broke through with a maiden victory on the undercard of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 25, is slated to make a return to action in the Fountain of Youth. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of Twirling Candy scored by four lengths at the 1 1/16-mile distance to graduate in his fifth career start.
' Pace Projector expects No. 6 As Seen On Tv, No. 10 Shotski and No. 1 Candy Tycoon to figure prominently early, noting the fractions could heat up as Dennis' Moment and Ete Indien sit in behind the leaders.
Fountain of Youth on TV
From 3-6 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 2 will televise "America's Day at the Races" live from Gulfstream Park. Additionally, wagering and a live stream are available via TVG, which offers enhanced on-site coverage from Todd Schrupp, Simon Bray, Caton Bredar and Gabby Gaudet.
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Fountain of Youth day handicapping
Ten of the 14 races on the Gulfstream Park card on Saturday are stakes races, with nine of them graded event. The Late Pick 4 features a guaranteed $750,000 pool, while the Late Pick 5 boasts a $500,000 guarantee. All approximate post times Eastern.
Race 5: $150,000 Grade 3 Honey Fox
Fountain of Youth card picks
Full card picks and analysis for the Fountain of Youth card are provided by Ryan Dickey.
Race 1: The opener is a mile turf route for $16,000 claimers. Expect a hot early pace with The Queens Jules (No. 3) and Gunslinger (No. 12) out front early. This sets up for one to come off the pace, and No. 4 Bondurant fits the bill nicely. Tyler Gaffalione is scheduled to ride, but take note he missed some mounts on Friday with a slight injury. No. 10 Tipsy Kitten and No. 7 Philo are the ones to use underneath. Selections: 4-10-7
Race 2: There are quite a few first-time starters in this $50,000 maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track. No. 5 Candy Machine will be well-bet on his debut for Chad Brown, so he's the one to try to beat. If I'm going to bet on a firster, No. 3 Centastic for trainer Todd Pletcher will do, as he'll be a much juicier price than Candy Machine. Of the horses with a start under their belt, I prefer No. 7 Unprecedented. Selections: 3-7-1-5
Race 3: In the Hutcheson, No. 5 Shivaree will be tough to beat, and I won't try. Horses to use underneath in exotics should include No. 6 Ournationparade and No. 7 Smash Factor. Use Shivaree as a solid single in multi-race bets. Selections: 5-6-7
Race 4: No. 12 Vitalogy will be well-represented at the betting windows, but I don't think his running style is a good fit for this edition of the Palm Beach (G3). I'd rather have one that will be forwardly placed, and that lands me on No. 5 Fancy Liquor, who was impressive on debut and may be a budding star. Use No. 7 South Bend to round out exotics. Selections: 5-12-7
Race 5: We'll look to the outside posts for the winner of the Honey Fox (G3). No. 11 Valedictorian may have the right amount of energy to go gate to wire, but she'll have to hold off No. 10 Munchkin Money driving to the wire with a late kick. Either one could win, but I'll take my chances with Valedictorian and Paco Lopez. Play those two in an exacta box. Add No. 2 Atomic Blonde and No. 4 La Feve underneath in trifectas. Selections: 11-10-2-4
Race 6: In an allowance race on the main track at a mile and a sixteenth for older horses, I'm going to side with the 2019 UAE Derby (G2) winner, No. 8 Plus Que Parfait. Although he's been on the shelf for 210 days, I think he's the best of the bunch. I'll use No. 7 Squeezeadios and No. 6 Olympic Village underneath. Selections: 8-7-6
Race 7: I like No. 2 Touriga at what could be a nice price in the The Very One (G3). She's 8-1 on the morning line, and others here will take a much larger share of the betting dollars. Touriga has won at this distance and is cutting back a bit from her last effort. No. 10 Empressof the Nile is logical but will be over-bet. No. 5 Cap de Creus and No. 6 Lemon Zip can help with exotic prices. Box these four in trifectas. Selections: 2-10-5-6
Race 8: A one-mile maiden special weight affair will feature No. 6 Mister Candy Ride being bet down to underlay status. While he could easily win the race, I'll try my chances with others. No. 2 Precise Dancer may be the second choice in the betting, and while I'd rather have that one than Mister Candy Ride, my pick here is No. 12 Gimme Some Mo for Todd Pletcher (I expect a big Saturday for Pletcher). Selections: 12-2-6
Race 9: In the Herecomesthebride (G3), It's all No. 7 Abscond. She's a single in multi-race bets. A filly I like at a price underneath is No. 5 Cheermeister. No. 11 Sunset Promise is a deeper longshot. Although the favorite will most likely win, exacta and trifecta payouts can really be bolstered by one or both of these underneath selections hitting the board. Selections: 7-5-11
Race 10: Until she is beaten, I'm sticking with No. 9 Tonalist's Shape. She comes into the Davona Dale (G2) a perfect 4-for-4. This should be one of the most exciting races of the day, with No. 6 Spice Is Nice and Tonalist's Shape slugging it out. I'll take No. 7 Bayerness to complete a straight trifecta. Selections: 9-6-7
Race 11: Again, I think it's going to be Pletcher's day on the Fountain of Youth undercard, and I'm sticking with that and taking No. 5 Sombeyay in the Canadian Turf (G3). He should sit and enjoy a nice stalking trip behind pacesetter No. 9 Gidu, then open up late down the lane to get to the wire first. No. 4 Hembree and No. 7 Mr Dumas round out race 11 for me. Selections: 5-9-4-7
Race 12: To me, the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) is the most intriguing race of the day, with a winning case to be made for nearly every horse in the field of 11. No. 9 Mr Freeze is my choice to win, but I could have just as easily landed on three or four others. I think the race sets up for Mr Freeze the best, and having a stablemate up front in the early going will help keep the pace hot. No. 11 Hog Creek Hustle could surprise them all with his late-running style, and No. 3 Phat Man should be considered an main contender. Box these three in exactas and trifectas. In multi-race bets, don't be afraid to go deep here. Selections: 9-11-3
Race 13: In the penultimate race of the card, No. 6 Zulu Alpha is the pick to win the Mac Diarmida (G2). As a 7-year-old, he's at his best right now, and that best is better than any other horse in this race. He'll be an underlay, so hooking up some prices underneath in exactas and trifectas is the way to go. Use No. 7 Admission Office, No. 8 Spooky Channel and No. 4 Sadler's Joy underneath. Selections: 6-7-8-4
Race 14: I really hope horses other than No. 5 Dennis' Moment take a lot of action, because I want my odds on the favorite to be as near the 2-1 morning line as possible. I'd be happier with 3-1, but beggars can't be choosers. While others will try to be cute and beat this one, I'm going to enjoy watching him win going away. Just a win bet for me. Selection: 5
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