Jack Spratt Jumps into Fountain of Youth Mix

Trainer Mike Maker will get a reading on the Kentucky Derby (G1) prospects of Thomas Conway and partners’ Jack Spratt when that 3-year-old colt runs in the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Feb. 28.

It will be the son of Candy Ride’s first race on dirt.

After winning the Dania Beach Stakes on turf here on Jan. 17 with a sweeping late burst, Maker is out to see if Jack Spratt can convert that success onto the big stage of the main track.

“You absolutely have to try it at this time of year,” said Maker Wednesday morning. Jack Spratt worked a half-mile Monday at Gulfstream in 50 flat. “The way he ran last time looked very much like he could be that kind of horse. Hopefully, he could open some new options.”

Jack Spratt has two victories from six starts. Five of those races came on the turf with a runner-up finish over Turfway Park’s Polytrack in his second career start his only appearance on something other than grass.

Maker described Monday’s work as “super” and noted that jockey Julien Leparoux was aboard and that he was very pleased. If Jack Spratt goes in the Fountain of Youth he will likely face Hutcheson Stakes (G2) winner Capt. Candyman Can, who has also been ridden by Leparoux.

“It’s obviously a good problem to have if you’re Julien,” said Maker of Gulfstream’s co-leading jockey this winter. “If all goes well with Capt. Candyman Can, we would understand, but he has been very pleased with (our horse).”

Jack Spratt will be entered in Saturday’s $125,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes, but will only run if the race is moved to the main track because of rain. The National Weather Service predicts only isolated showers on Friday and Saturday with the chance of precipitation at 10 percent each afternoon.

Maker also reported 3-year-old filly Complicity, owned by the same partners as Jack Spratt, came out of her fifth-place finish in an allowance race here on Feb. 5 in good order and would not wheel back in the $125,000 Coconut Grove Stakes this Sunday.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Talent Search, on the comeback trail in the sprint division, won’t make the $150,000 Richter Scale (G2) Saturday after a bout of colic last month. The 6-year-old son of Catienus finished in the money in three straight Grade 1 stakes in 2007, including the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), but raced just once in 2008, finishing second in the Phoenix Stakes (G3) last October at Keeneland.

“It’s always frustrating,” said Maker, who took over training of Talent Search this winter. “Gratefully, he came out of this okay and the good thing about good horses like him is you have no problem finding places for them to run.”

Maker, who set a record for wins at the Churchill Downs fall meet while taking the training title there, is having a similar strong season so far at Gulfstream.

“I’ve got no complaints,” he said. “We’ve won our fair share (six) and we’ve got a stakes win. I’m very pleased with what we’ve done so far.”

‘Candyman’ Leads South Florida Derby Prospects in First Derby Future Pool

Churchill Downs has released opening odds for its first of three Kentucky Derby Future Pools and Hutcheson Stakes (G2) winner Capt. Candyman Can is the co-favorite among the 23 individually listed 3-year-olds at 10-1 along with Old Fashioned.

Trained by Ian Wilkes, Capt. Candyman Can leads the group of eight individually listed South Florida-stabled Derby Future prospects, along with Big Drama, Beethoven, Hello Broadway, Notonthesamepage, Taquarub, This Ones for Phil and West Side Bernie.

The Mutuel Field is the favorite in odds-maker Mike Battaglia’s Pool 1 line at 5-2. Big Brown was a ‘Field’ horse in last year’s Pool 1 before winning the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) for trainer Rick Dutrow.

‘Roundhouse’ Returns from Lengthy Layoff in Friday Feature

Michael Tabor’s 4-year-old The Roundhouse appeared ready to be a 2008 Kentucky Derby (G1) prospect after placing in two graded stakes at Saratoga as a 2-year-old in 2007, but has been on the sidelines since finishing a dull sixth as the favorite behind Wicked Style in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland that fall.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, The Roundhouse is entered to return to competition in Friday’s seven-furlong allowance feature at Gulfstream Park with Edgar Prado in ride. The Kentucky homebred son of Fusaichi Pegasus finished third in the Sanford Stakes (G2) and second in the Saratoga Special (G2) before the Breeders’ Futurity.

Phipps Stable’s 4-year-old homebred Vacation is another in the field of nine older horses in Friday’s ‘non-winners of two’ feature with graded-stakes-placed credentials. Jockey John R. Velazquez has the mount on the son of Dynaformer for trainer Shug McGaughey as he makes his first start since losing a nose decision when second in the Pass the Tab overnight stakes on the main track at Aqueduct on Nov. 16.

Vacation broke his maiden going two turns on turf over the Gulfstream turf course last year and finished second in the Saranac Stakes (G2) on turf at Saratoga in late August. Although he has only won once in 14 starts, Vacation shows four seconds and six third-place finishes.

Completing the field are Jim Tafel’s Maria’s Charm, Julien Leparoux; Edgard Acosta’s Wise Emperor, Wesley Henry; Robert N. Clay’s Formidable, Jose Lezcano; Stronach Stables’ Lion Lord, Rene Douglas; Mark Lapidus’ Obscurity, Elvis Trujillo; Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Nader, Ariel Smith; and Tim Hills’ Berning Blaze, C.H. Marquez, Jr.

Jockey-Poster Signing Redux Shifted to Sunday, Feb. 22

With many of the top locally based jockeys heading out of town this weekend, the second jockey-poster signing of the meeting has been postponed from this coming Sunday, Feb. 15, to Sunday, Feb. 22

The poster signings have been hugely popular events at Gulfstream Park in past years and, by popular demand and the jockeys’ willingness to participate, it was determined there would be a second session this meet. Like the first, weather permitting, the signing will take place in the walking ring beginning at noon and concluding at 12:45.