Trainer Nick Zito is no stranger to the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He won it in 2005 with High Fly and Cool Coal Man won in 2008. Zito has high hopes today to win it a third time when he sends 5-2 morning line favorite Jackson Bend and Ice Box (10-1) to the starting gate of the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Jackson Bend failed as the favorite last time out in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), beaten three-quarters of a length by Winslow Homer and I believe that he will not fair any better today. Although I have to admit that Jackson Bend did better in the Holy Bull than I thought he would.
If the odds on Ice Box stay at 10-1 or go higher, I believe that he may be a good long shot bet. After three previous attempts, Ice Box finally broke his maiden at the Meadowlands last October and earned an 80 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort. Also in that race was fourth-place finisher Worth A Buck who three races later finished second to Laus Deo in the Count Fleet Stakes.
After a three-month break, Ice Box returned to racing in January and earned a 94 speed figure winning a 9-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream. Ice Box has the pedigree to get the distance and his past performances have improved in the last two races. Only time will tell if Ice Box has improved enough to be competive in stakes competition. His bullet work February 12 indicates that he may be ready for a good effort.
If you throw out the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1), Eskendereya (5-1) has a pretty good racing record (4-2-1-0) that includes a 7 ¼ - length romp in the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont last October. All four of Eskendereya’s races have been route races and in his last race, a one-mile allowance at Gulfstream, he earned a 99 speed figure for that effort.
Eskendereya has the pedigree to get the distance and I have been waiting for him to stretch out to 9-furlongs. Eskendereya has been working out good at the Palm Meadows Training Center and I look for him to be competitive.
Undefeated in three starts, Buddy’s Saint (3-1) makes his 3-year-old debut in the Fountain of Youth coming off graded-stakes wins last year in the Nashua (G2) and Remsen Stakes (G2). Although he has yet to race this year, Buddy’s Saint recorded a bullet work out February 7 and should be ready to put in a good effort for trainer Bruce Levine.
At 30-1 morning line odds, Prince Will I Am looks like an interesting long shot. Prince Will I Am comes in to the race with a second-place finish to Drosselmeyer in a 9-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream. Drosselmeyer earned a 103 speed figure for that effort and his bullet work January 24 indicates that he could be ready for another good effort.
Risen Star Stakes
Trainer Tom Amoss sends 3-1 morning line favorite Ron The Greek to the starting gate of the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds.
In a move reminiscent of Mine That Bird in last year's Kentucky Derby, Ron The Greek came from 15-lengths back at the second call to pull off the upset win the Lecomte Stakes (G3) last month, winning by 1 ½ -lengths over favored second-place finisher Maximus Ruler.
Ron The Greek earned a 98 speed figure for that effort and improved his recond to three wins and a fourth-place finish in four starts. Ron The Greek fired a bullet work February 10 and I look for him to put in another good effort in the Southwest.
Trainer Bill Mott ships in Drosselmeyer (4-1) from Gulfstream for a chance to win some graded-stakes money. Coming off a two-month layoff, Drosselmeyer won his 3-year-old debut last month, winninga 9-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream by 1 ¾ - lengths over Prince Will I Am who is running in the Fountain of Youth. Drosselmeyer earned a 105 speed figure for that effort and improved his record to 2-2-1 in five starts. I like him a lot in this race.
After three attempts, Tempted To Tapit (8-1) finally broke his maiden with an impressive 11 ½ -length win at Aqueduct last month, earning a 103 speed figure. Despite the step up to stakes competition, I don’t believe that will be too much of a problem for Tempted To Tapit and he should be able to handle the increased distance of 8.5-furlongs.
In four starts, Stay Put (8-1) has never been out of the money and he has improved his speed figures with every race. Stay Put has been working out good and he has previously defeated four of the horses that are entered in today’s race. I can’t see Stay Put winning but I can see using him in the exotics.
The potential for a clash between two Hall of Fame trainers looms large at Oaklawn Park when trainer Bob Baffert sends the 7-2 morning line second-choice Conveyance to the starting gate of the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) where they will square off with his old rival D. Wayne Lukas and the 5-1 morning line third-choice Dublin.
Baffert has several potential Kentucky Derby candidates this year and if Conveyance, undefeated in thee starts, wins the the Southwest, he will join Baffert’s A-Team along with Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old Male Lookin At Lucky.
Dublin showed real promise for Lukas early in his two-year-old season winning the the Grade-One Hopeful Stakes last September at Saratoga. But later in the year, Dublin finished off the board in the Champagne (G1) and Iroquois (G3) Stakes.
The potential cause for Dublin’s poor performance was an entrapped epiglottis which can adversely affect the horse during a race. The epiglottis was fixed and, since then, Dublin has been firing bullets in work outs over the Oaklawn track. If Dublin has returned to his previous 2-year-old winning form, he should be tough in the Southwest.
After an eight-month layoff, Mission Impazible (15-1) resumed racing January 9 in a 6-furlong sprint in the slop at Gulfstream Park, narrowly losing by a head to Three Day Rush who finished third in the Whirlway Stakes February 6 at Aqueduct. Mission Impazible earned a 102 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort and he could improve in his second start since the layoff.
Mission Impazible has never run in a route race but his pedigree suggests that the distance should not be a problem and I look for him to be competitive.
With two wins and a second-place finish in three starts, Pleasant Storm (8-1) has improved his performance with every race. In the Smarty Jones Stakes, Pleasant Storm finished a closing second to Dryfly, the 3-1 favorite in the Southwest, and his 92 speed figure for the effort is his best yet.
Prior to the Smarty Jones, Pleasant Storm fired a bullet work and his recent bullet work February 7 indicates that he could be ready for another good effort.
Trainer Rick Dutrow sends the 2-1 morning line favorite D’Funnybone to the starting gate of the 7-furlong $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park. D’Funnybone has not raced since last November when he finished dead-last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Since then, D’Funnybone has been working out good and drops back in distance that should be more to his liking.
The horse that interests me the most in this race is A Little Warm (3-1) who is trained by Dutrow’s older brother, Tony. After three previous attempts to break his maiden, A Little Warm powered home to a 10 ¾ - length victory in a 6-furlong sprint at Philadelphia Park last November. In January, A Little Warm earned a 106 speed figure enroute to a 1 ½ - length win in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream.
A Little Warm has the fastest times of all the horses entered in the Hutcheson and the stretch out to 7-furlongs should not be a problem. A Little Warm posted a bullet work out February 14 and he should be ready for another good race.
In three starts, Wildcat Frankie (4-1) has never been out of the money and I look for him to repeat in the Hutcheson. Wildcat Frankie is a fast horse, but he came up short in the Spectacular Bid, losing by 1 ¼ - lengths to A Little Warm.
At 12-1 morning line odds, City Trooper is an interesting long shot. He’s cutting back in distance and picks up jockey Garrett Gomez for trainer George Weaver. Last November, City Trooper won a 7-furlong sprint at Aqueduct by 6 ½ - lengths and if he can run back to that form, he can be competitive in this race.
El Camino Real Derby
Trainer Todd Pletcher has won a lot of races, but he will be looking for his first win in the 9-furlong $150,000 El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Park when he sends 2-1 morning line favorite Connemara to the starting gate.
Connemara failed as the favorite in last month’s California Derby, beaten three-quarters of a length by Ranger Heartley (5-2) who is also entered in the El Camino Real Derby. California Derby third-place finisher Thomas Baines returns for today’s race as the 7-2 morning line third choice. It’s a good possibility that today’s race could end up as a repeat of the California Derby.
Of the new players, Haimish Hy at 15-1 morning line odds and Posse Power (12-1) looks like a couple of interesting long shots and they could, perhaps, be a factor in the race.
Since moving to the barn of Steve Sherman, Haimish Hy has won three of his last four races improving his record to 3-0-1 in six starts. He has the pedigree to handle the distance and could be tough in this spot.
In five starts, Posse Power has never been out of the money and he has been running in mostly sprint races. However, Posse Power did successfully stretch out to an 8.5-furlong race in his last outing which he won by a head. His sire, Posse, was a successful sprinter, but Posse Power receives some stamina influences from his dam Stellerina and damsire, Pleasant Colony.
A bullet work out February 10 could indicate that Posse Power is ready to run a good race.