The 63rd edition of the Fountain of Youth, shortened to a one-turn mile test this year from nine furlongs, has attracted more high-profile potential Kentucky Derby (G1) prospects than any race on the national calendar at this point in the season with a fast pace almost certain to develop.
Jockey Calvin Borel is due back in town for the mount on Beethoven for trainer John Ward as the Sky Mesa colt turns back in distance from a fourth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles here on Jan. 31 when he had to break from the far outside post 10, beaten 4¼ lengths by the winner in his season debut.
Beethoven established his class last fall winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in late November with Capt. Candyman Can third in the 1 1/16 miles test and only a half-length separating the first three.
Jockey Julien Leparoux has ridden Capt. Candyman in all five of his career starts for trainer Ian Wilkes and will be back aboard Saturday after an impressive score winning the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G2) here on Jan. 30 in his 3-year-old debut. The son of Candy Ride won the Iroquois Stakes (G3) going a one-turn mile at Churchill in his start prior to the Kentucky Jockey Club in which he was the 11-to-10 favorite.
There will almost certainly be plenty of pace down the backstretch and into the turn in the Fountain of Youth with Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Notonthesamepage, Paul Pompa, Jr.’s This Ones for Phil and Shadwell Stable’s Taqarub each coming into the race after sharp sprint stakes victories in their last starts.
Notonthesamepage got the Gulfstream stakes program off to a fast start on opening day Jan. 3 when he romped home an 8 ¼ lengths winner of the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes in 1:08 2/5 under jockey Elvis Trujillo, who will be back aboard Saturday. Trainer Wesley Ward chose to keep the homebred son of Catienus out of the Hutcheson to await Saturday’s race.
This Ones for Phil was brilliant in his own right winning the Sunshine Millions Dash at six furlongs on Jan. 24 by 2 ¼ lengths in his first start for Pompa and trainer Rick Dutrow after a private purchase late last year. Jockey Edgar Prado gets the return call on the chestnut gelding by Untuttable, who won a minor stakes going one mile around two turns last year at Calder for his previous connections.
Taqarub is the wild card as he makes his South Florida debut after winning all three of his career starts at Aqueduct for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Jockey Alan Garcia made the trip from Gulfstream to New York for the mount on the son of Aldebaran in the six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield Stakes on Jan. 19 as he scored easily by 8 ¼ lengths in 1:09 1/5.
Completing the field for Saturday’s historic Florida Derby (G1) preview are Samotawka Stables and partners’ Theregoesjojo, Kent Desormeaux; Edward P. Evans’ Quality Road, John R. Velazquez; Live Oak Plantation’s Rocketing Returns, Jose Lezcano; Eli Gindi’s Break Water Edison, Eibar Coa; Sand Dollar Stable’s Jack Spratt, J. Robert Harris, Jr.’s Bee Cee Cee, Cornelio Velasquez; and Starlight Stable’s Take the Points, Chris DeCarlo.
Both Theregoesjojo and Quality Road will be making their stakes debut but will get support after finishing one-two last out in a seven-furlong allowance race on Jan. 10. ‘Jojo’ rallied in the stretch to run down Quality Road and score by 2 ¾ lengths for trainer Ken McPeek as the son of Brahms made his third career start and first since last summer at Churchill Downs.
Quality Road is an imposing homebred colt by Elusive Quality trained by Jimmy Jerkens and was made the 7-to-10 favorite over Theregoesjojo in the allowance after winning his only start at Aqueduct in late November impressively. He was off a step slow that day and rushed up to lead until giving way in the final sixteenth.
Take the Points was a surprise entry for trainer Todd Pletcher as it has been reported that he would run in Saturday’s $200,000 Sham Stakes (G3) going 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita.
However, after a charter flight scheduled for Wednesday was postponed until Thursday, Pletcher entered him in the Fountain of Youth in case of another flight delay. The roan/gray colt won a one-mile allowance Jan. 31 by two lengths in his 3-year-old debut after breaking his maiden at Belmont Park in late September in his third career start.
Delightful Kiss Returns to Turf in Canadian
Jockey Calvin Borel will be in town to ride Capt. Candyman Can in the Fountain of Youth and rejoin Delightful Kiss in the Canadian Turf as the charismatic roan/gray homebred by Kissin Kris makes his first start on grass since he was a 3-year-old and finished ninth over a ‘yielding’ course in the American Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day.
Trainer Pete Anderson has indicated that Delightful Kiss will use the race as a tune-up for a trip to Dubai for the $1 Godolphin Mile (G2) on the main track on World Cup Day, Mar. 28. Delightful Kiss did run well on turf on a couple of occasions earlier in his career. In two starts this year he won the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) here on Jan. 3 and finished a respectable third in the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 24.
The favorite in the Canadian could be Jon and Sarah Kelly’s 4-year-old Sporting Art in spite of the fact that he hasn’t run since finishing eighth over a ‘soft’ course in the Colonial Turf Cup (G3) at Colonial Downs in Virginia in June.
Kent Desormeaux gets the call on Sporting Art for trainer Christophe Clement. The Kentucky-bred son of Doneraille Court won two of four starts as a 2-year-old in England and appeared among the best of his age last year after victories in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) here and the Calder Derby (G3) in April. He finished fifth as the odds-on favorite in the Arlington Classic in one more start before the Colonial race.
Completing the field for the 43rd running of the Canadian Turf are Maybry Farm’s Rogue Victory, Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn, Ol Memorial Stable and C.E. Glasscock’s Buffalo Man, Gary Tanaka’s Passager, Kinsman Stable’s Vanquisher, Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well, Peachtree Stable’s Twilight Meteor, Jeff Singer’s Bujagali and Eli Lomita’s Buddy’s Humor.