By Margaret Ransom
The race is named for a mythical fountain of youth Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon set out to find in the 1500s. What’s found today in the general area of south Florida is the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), a prestigious event for 3-year-olds with hopes of running in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
With Derby qualifying point of 50-20-10-5 to the first four finishers, the winner and likely the runner-up would all but clinch berths in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 7.
A field of 13 was entered. Simplification was 7-2 on the morning-line. Mo Donegal was entered and made the 3-1 favorite but spiked a mild fever and will not run.
Gulfstream Park named the race for the mythical fountain, and we’re into the 90th running on Saturday. Five Fountain of Youth winners have gone on to win the Derby — Tim Tam (1958), Kauai King (1966), Spectacular Bid (1979), Thunder Gulch (1995), and Orb (2013).
Five others finished second or third in the Fountain of Youth before wearing the famed garland of roses — Iron Liege (1957), Pleasant Colony (1981), Swale (1984), Unbridled (1990) and Go for Gin (1994).
Fourteen horses have completed the Fountain of Youth-Florida Derby (G1) double, the most recent being Orb in 2013. He is also one of four to complete the Fountain of Youth-Florida Derby-Kentucky Derby hat trick. The other three are Tim Tam (1958), Spectacular Bid (1979) and Thunder Gulch (1995).
Some other famous names found on the winner’s list include In Reality, Al Hattab, Shecky Greene, Darn That Alarm, Vicar, Songandaprayer, Mohaymen, and Gunnevera.
The race was not run in three years – 1946, 1948 and 1952. In 1983, 1986 and 1993 the race was split into two divisions. In 1947 it was run twice – early in the year for 3-year-olds and again late in the year for 2-year-olds.
The race has three records for a final time because it’s been run at three distances: 1 mile in 1:35.01 (2009, Quality Road); 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 (1978, Sensitive Prince); and 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.87 (2010, Eskendereya). In 2012, Gulfstream added a second finish line so the Fountain of Youth and other dirt races could be contested at 1 1/16 miles.
Hall of Famers Jimmy Jones, D. Wayne Lukas, and Todd Pletcher have saddled three winners apiece. Pletcher sent out Scat Daddy (2007), Eskendereya (2010) and Itsaknockout (2012), the latter finishing second before being elevated to the victory following the disqualification of the actual winner, Upstart. Lukas saddled Dance Floor (1992), Thunder Gulch (1995), and High Yield (2000). Jones was responsible for wins for Gen. Duke (1957), Tim Tam (1958), and Beau Prince (1961).
In 2019, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez was aboard Code of Honor to pick up his fifth career Fountain of Youth win and take a one-race lead in FOY victories over fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey. He also rode Scat Daddy (2007), Quality Road (2009), Eskendereya (2010) and Orb (2013).
Two years ago, Ete Indien won for trainer Patrick Biancone and jockey Florent Geroux. Last year, Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey tightened the girth on Greatest Honour for the win.
Saturday’s weather is expected to be warm and pleasant, with partly cloudy skies and highs in the low 80s. Expect fast and firm conditions. A total of 13 races have been carded of which nine are stakes and eight graded. The Fountain of Youth is the 12th race post time of 5:42 p.m. ET.
The Fountain of Youth field in post-position order, with jockeys, trainers, and odds.
Markhamian (Marcos Meneses, Juan Avila), 20-1
Social Inclusion—Peruvian Jane, by Colonel John
Simplification (Jose Ortiz, Antonio Sano), 7-2
Not This Time—Simply Confection, by Candy Ride (Arg)
Howling Time (Joe Talamo, Dale Romans), 15-1
Not This Time—Werewolf, by Arch
In Due Time (Paco Lopez, Kelly Breen) 6-1
Not This Time—Sweet Sweet Annie, by Curlin
Dean Delivers (Miguel Vasquez, Michael Yates), 15-1
Cajun Breeze—Slick and True, by Yes It’s True
Rattle N Roll (Brian Hernandez, Jr., Kenny McPeek), 12-1
Connect—Jazz Tune, by Johannesburg
A. P.’s Secret (Tyler Gaffalione, Saffie Joseph, Jr.), 20-1
Cupid—Afleet Honey, by Uncle Mo
More Than Ready—Hard Cloth, by Hard Spun
High Oak (Junior. Alvarado, Bill Mott), 8-1
Gormley—Champagne Sue, by Elusive Quality
Giant Game, (Corey Lanerie, Dale Romans), 15-1
Giant’s Causeway—Game for More, by More Than Ready
O Captain (Javier Castellano, Gustavo Delgado), 30-1
Carpe Diem—Mama Nadine, by A.P. Indy
Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Todd Pletcher), 3-1
Uncle Mo—Callingmissbrown, by Pulpit
Galt (Joel Rosario, Bill Mott), 12-1 (AE)
Medaglia d’Oro—Ivanavinalot, by West Acre