Fountain of Youth Stakes 2022 Entries: Pletcher's Emmanuel with potential
Race 12: 1 1/16th (Dirt), Fountain of Youth Stakes, Purse $400k, 3 (Saturday)
This Saturday at Gulfstream Park, the FOY as it’s known, breaks from the gate going 1 1/16th on the Main Track. Past history tells us that though this is a stop on the Kentucky Derby Trail, only 1 colt has hoisted that famous hardware in the new century—Shug McGaughey’s Orb back in 2010. Despite this shortcoming, some solid runners have come through this race. What is at stake? KYD148 Points, of course ... to the tune of 50-20-10-5.
Like those restorative waters … with this Fountain of Youth, a dose moves you ever closer to the starting gate on “The 1st Saturday in May.” Who could forget pail collectors like Code of Honor, Promises Fulfilled, Gunnevera, Union Rags, and last year’s winner, Shug’s Greatest Honour? In the 2022 Edition, who will taste the FOY victory once again, possibly leading to a coveted Derby win?
Let’s find out who draws-in …
#1 Markhamian (Jky: M. Meneses/Trn: JC Avila):
Here is a long shot pick from the barn of Juan Carlos Avila. The Gulfstream Park-based conditioner was on the Derby Trail back in 2020 with a major score in the Tampa Bay Derby. It was too bad that King Guillermo came down with a fever during Derby Week. He was quite a runner. Now, Avila looks to try once again to earn a coveted ticket. His colt by Social Inclusion did run impressively in the Pasco $125k up at Tampa back in mid-January. Considering the colt was coming out of state bred company before that, I would say that was a major step-up in class. With Marcos Meneses aboard, if you are looking for a price horse, this is it. He must run even faster in the FOY to win …
#2 Simplification (Jky: J. Ortiz/Trn: A. Sano):
Here is a colt by Not This Time (same sire as Epicenter who is leading in KYD148 Points) that will end up being a popular pick among handicappers. Antonio Sano’s runner was 2nd behind White Abarrio in the Holy Bull (G3), just fending off a hard-charging Mo Donegal #12 before the wire. That race was quite a challenge for this early-goer, since he blew the break when the bell sounded. Unlike in the Mucho Macho Man where he led from gate-to-wire, in that spot he was forced to come from way off-the-pace. Sano makes the switch in the saddle, and exchanges JJ Castellano for Jose Ortiz. That is an upgrade, but there is no question that Castellano handled the riding duties well. This need-the-lead-type better wrestle for that spot come Saturday … or else ...
#3 Howling Time (Jky: J. Talamo/Trn: D. Romans):
I must admit that the runners coming out of the 2021 Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs have acquitted themselves well. White Abarrio, Classic Causeway, and even Smile Happy, all look like KYD148 contenders … Here is another alum from that race that is seeking a reunion in May. Dale Romans has not exactly been a trainer of note lately. Even though he started around 350 runners this past year, he doesn’t seem to have the glossy shine that he once commanded. He is bringing this colt to Gulfstream (also by popular sire Not This Time) off a lengthy layoff. If you are basing your appraisal on whether this 3-yr-old is ready by looking at his work tab, then I would say, yes … he looks ready to fire. But this is the FOY, and it is a massive field. With so many options, it is hard to see Joe Talamo having this one in position, with gas left in the tank. If I am wrong, then I am wrong … I don’t have as much confidence in Romans as I once did.
#4 In Due Time (Jky: P. Lopez/Trn: K. Breen):
The Not This Time Family Picnic has their tables reserved … This is yet another budding router from that “rising sire. He is looking to make a splash in the FOY. Trained by Kelly Breen, a conditioner who probably does not receive as many accolades as he should, is looking to stretch his 3-yr-old out in distance at Gulfstream. His entry already has a signature win on the MT, after he torched a field of 7 others last time in an OC75kn1x in early February. With Paco Lopez aboard then, as he is now, I would think that he has a chance to improve. Breen doesn’t enter near as many G-races as his more celebrated counterparts like Pletcher and Joseph, but that doesn’t mean this one couldn’t jump up and secure a win. He has tactical speed, and maybe with a big kick, he can get home. A chance …
#5 Dean Deilvers (Jky: M. Vasquez/Trn: M. Yates):
Trainer Mike Yates took a different avenue to get to the FOY … he ran his son of Cajun Breeze in the Grade 3 Swale S. That’s a 7F sprint that was won by Merry Prankster in early February at Gulfstream. The gelding nearly won the contest at odds of 7/1, and Yates is hoping that his affinity for the track continues. This one has never been 3rd in 4 lifetime races. However, this will clearly be his toughest test yet … going a distance he has never travelled … against a tough field … in a Grade 2 … None of this will be easy, as Migueld Vasquez once again pilots this mount. If he can press the pace, and have something quick to run into, maybe he can outlast the closers. Tough to see … maybe needed to stick with sprinting.
#6 Rattle N Roll (Jky: B. Hernandez/Trn: K. McPeek):
We are finally going to have the opportunity to see Kenny McPeek’s talented Luck Seven Stable colt by Connect back on the track. The last time we saw this one in competition, he was celebrating a well-earned victory in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland back in early October. McPeek has managed his 3-yr-old, and waited … and waited … and waited … for the right moment. Clearly, using the post-modern Derby strategy of being lightly-raced was the tactic here. If he is sharp after 6 works in the new year, then he could be very tough to tangle with in what will be his 1st attempt at the GP MT. Regular rider Brian Hernandez, who is in from NOLA, takes the mount once again. His riding can be aggressive and inspired. Look for this runner to be there in the end … a true talent and one to watch.
#7 A.P.’s Secret (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: S. Joseph):
It would not be a Gulfstream Park FOY without one of its leading trainers. Saffie Joseph’s rise to the top of the conditioning ranks continues apace … Not only does he have White Abarrio and Make It Big in his midst, but here is a colt by Cupid that might scoop everyone entered here. The last time this 3-yr-old hit the track, he scored with an on-the-engine performance going a mile over the MT. That was an OC75kn1x, and it proved once again that speed can be lethal on the dirt. After almost 2 months off, Joseph brings him into a much tougher spot. I would argue that spots like these are where this trainer excels. His charge has worked well on-track, and also gets a solid rider upgrade with Tyler Gaffalione. He can be simply brilliant in managing a horse that he has never ridden, and let’s face it … this is a hot barn right now. If I had to choose a long shot pick … this is the one … a router with both Tapit and Uncle Mo in his bloodline? Wager at the ready …
#8 Emmanuel (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: T. Pletcher):
The conditioning ability of Todd Pletcher kicks into high gear along the Derby Trail. Expect the HOF trainer to have at least 1 runner at Churchill for the historic race every time. When it comes to a top selection, I can tell you that barring some epiphany, this son of More Than Ready will be choice. The colt looks poised to take a step forward after he ran on impressively up at Tampa in an OC75kn1x back in late January. The speed fig he posted, plus the fact that he broke his maiden on debut at Gulfstream, only adds to the argument. Working over at Pletcher’s training base (Palm Beach Downs), I think this is a star in the making. Pletcher continues his close relationship with super jockey Luis Saez, and when this pair gets together, you had better watch out. I will end with this … if Saez can hustle him to the lead … and gets loose … this race is over …
#9 High Oak (Jky: J. Alvarado/Trn: B. Mott):
There are horses coming off-the-bench for trainers, and then there is this colt by Gormley, for HOF conditioner Bill Mott. We have not seen this 3-yr-old since he was 2. And even then, it was way back at Saratoga in the 6 Sept. running of the Grade 1 Hopeful S. Mott is “hopeful” that his runner is fit and ready for action. There is no question that this one started his career with a bang at Belmont back in June (broke his maiden MSW90k), but I question whether his maturity has taken hold. I like the choice of Junior Alvarado once again, who rode him all last year. Still, as I said, there are layoff horses, and then there are layoff horses … this is the latter. My instinct is to look elsewhere … if he beats me, then it’s a tip of the cap.
#10 Giant Game (Jky: C. Lanerie/Trn: D. Romans):
The other half of Romans’ uncoupled entry certainly looks more inviting. But that is not saying much … The redeeming quality is that this son of Giant’s Causeway did compete in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream in early February. The problem is, he finished 8th … 24-lengths back of White Abarrio. As many have mentioned, that was a tough race in that the pace was extremely quick for going 1 1/16th … and the Joseph runner still won by 4+ lengths. Romans has a good horse here, and he teams up with the venerable Corey Lanerie. I am not sure that this worker of miracles has what it takes to get the job done. Still, let’s not forget that this colt did run in the BC Juvenile against Corniche and Pappacap, and did place 3rd. Class and a couple of handy works on-track are something to hang your ‘capping hat on …
#11 O Captain (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: G. Delgado):
Come Saturday, it is probably a good bet that this Gustavo Delgado runner will be the longest shot on the tote. The conditioner gets Javier Castellano aboard once again, and he was aboard last time in the Limehouse $100k at Gulfstream. That effort did not result in a win, and that is highly disconcerting. If you cannot score in a $100k, isn’t it going to be tough to nose dive into the depths of a Grade 2? Castellano is a seasoned jockey, and over the years he has ridden in plenty of challenging races. I don’t think this one has much of a chance, but using him in the exotics can always be interesting … what a price "My Captain" is going to be!
#12 Mo Donegal (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: T. Pletcher): SCRATCHED
Drawn way to the outside is probably going to be the race time favorite from the barn of Todd Pletcher. This son of Uncle Mo (pronounced Donnie Gaul) was well-backed at the windows in the Holy Bull (G3), but he lacked the necessary kick to catch up with White Abarrio, who was the eventual winner. Now, Pletcher brings the Remsen S. (G2) victor back for another attempt at some more KYD148 “Points.” The controversial rider, Irad Ortiz, who was serving a suspension, comes back ready to ride. His aggressive tactics and out-of-control piloting got him in some hot water after the AQU Remsen. There is no question that this runner can be in-the-money on Saturday, but can he marshal enough speed at the top of the lane to get home. Ortiz will do everything in his power to make that happen … however fair that is …
#13 Galt (AE) (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: B. Mott):
The lone “Also-Eligible” that could draw-in on Saturday afternoon is the other half of Bill Mott’s uncoupled entry. This well-bred 3-yr-old by Medaglia d’Oro was not cheap back at the Keeneland November Sale in 2019--$400k. Oxo Equine spend the requisite cash, and they are hoping that this one can get in, so he can have a shot at some more KYD “Points.” In the Holy Bull (G3), he ended up a respectable 4th with Junior Alvarado aboard. If he makes it as the AE, then how about the jock change to Eclipse Award receipt, Joel Rosario? That is not too shabby a choice, eh? Rosario actually rode Mott’s runner in his debut at Saratoga. Maybe the swap can make the difference. He is certainly not without talent, good breeding, and thus, should have a chance at the “minors.”
Join us Saturday for all of our selections! Should be a great set of races from beautiful Gulfstream Park! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!
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