A big weekend ahead with Kentucky Derby preps and none bigger this weekend than the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. Weather for Saturday looks to be sunny and 83 degrees without any rain in the forecast so we’re expecting a fast-main track and a firm-turf course. The Saturday race card is chock full of graded stakes races and I’ve selected four to review:
Race 13 – The Xpressbet Fountain Of Youth (Grade 2) (22:32 GMT / 17:32 ET)
The Fountain of Youth came up as the deepest, strongest Kentucky Derby prep race for the 2019 racing season so far with a talented field of 3-year-olds led by 9-5 morning line favorite – Hidden Scroll. Hidden Scroll broke his maiden at 1-mile at Gulfstream on January 26th on a sloppy main track and won off by a whopping 14 lengths. Hidden Scroll went off at 8-1 that day and earned a graded stakes quality Beyer Speed Figure of 104 on debut. The main question is whether his form was aided by the sloppy track. He is bred to love the mud and he’s not likely to get a sloppy track on Saturday. He’s also only raced once so literally all his opponents on Saturday have a seasoning edge on him. My final bit of evidence in taking a contrarian approach against Hidden Scroll is the fact that I’ve seen trainer Bill Mott win in similar fashion many years ago with mud-lovers on sloppy racetracks on debut and both ended up being exceptional sprinters, but they didn’t excel at distance races. (Elusive Quality and Rock and Roll were those two horses.)
With an abundance of speed lined up, I’m going to take a chance on Bourbon War for Mark Hennig. Bourbon War broke his maiden in an off-the-turf event at Aqueduct in November at 17-1 and followed that up with a 4th place finish in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes. After a month-and-a-half break, Bourbon War won a 1 1/16th race here at Gulfstream Park after stalking a slow pace and closing from mid-pack. Of the 11 horses signed on to race, Bourbon War has the strongest closing speed figures as most of the field prefers to be on or near the front end and the ability to rate is a very important quality in 3-year-olds at this stage. Leading rider Irad Ortiz only sweetens the pot.
Code of Honor is my second choice here. After a sharp debut and a solid closing figure in his second-place-finish in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, Code of Honor finished a dull fourth in his seasonal debut at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Shug McGaughey has won the Kentucky Derby before with Orb and is taking his time bringing this one along. I’ll take Hidden Scroll to finish third here, but I really won’t be shocked if he wins. He’s an exciting horse and if he can duplicate his last race, he will put himself right into the early picture for Kentucky Derby favorite.
The Xpressbet Fountain Of Youth Free Picks:
Bourbon War @ 26.00 Betfair SB, PaddyPower
Code of Honor @ 13.00 BetVictor, Bet365
Race 8 – The Herecomesthebride (Grade 3) (20:00 GMT / 15:00 ET)
The Herecomesthebride will be run at 1 1/16th miles on the turf for 3-year-old fillies and looks to be trainer Chad Brown’s for the taking. Brown will run three in the race – the top three morning line choices and of the three, I’m going with European – Golconda. Golconda hasn’t raced since September and has only sprinted in her native France but Chad Brown knows how to train European Turf horses and his main rider – Javier Castellano is slated to ride.
Second, I like $1.25 Million purchase Cambier Parc who broke her maiden on this turf course back in early January. Bred to be a monster, Cambier Parc seems to have the tactical speed to make her a force to be reckoned with here. Third, I like Connectivity who also broke her maiden here at Gulfstream recently with a strong closing kick.
The Herecomesthebride Free Picks:
Golconda @ 4.50 BetVictor, Bet365
Cambier Parc @ 2.62 BetVictor, Bet365
Race 10 – Maiden Special Weight (21:00 GMT / 16:00 ET)
Race 10 is a strong Maiden Special Weight on this star-studded stakes card. Cards like these typically draw stronger fields of maidens and that’s the case here as ten horses will be going 1 1/16 miles. Many horses in this race are coming out of Hidden Scroll’s destruction of a maiden race so it will be interesting to see how the horses who finished behind him will fare here. I’m taking the pessimistic approach with them and instead going with Felix the Fox. Felix the Fox has raced 4 times and finished in the money 3 of those 4 times with two second place finishes and a third. He’s ridden by Joel Rosario who rode him in 3 of his starts already. Felix the Fox will be equipped with blinkers for the first time – a move that trainer Shug McGaughey wins with 21% of the time. In his most recent start, Felix the Fox finished third behind second place finisher- Country House who finished second in the Risen Star Stakes in his most recent start. Felix the Fox has the seasoning and the running style to win this race and I think he will do just that.
Ownitifyouwantit is my second choice as the speed breaking from the rail. He’ll be ridden by Javier Castellano for the first time and can easily slip away if nobody presses. He too finished only a few lengths behind graded stakes place Country House in his most recent start.
Haunt is my third choice on the basis that this was where jockey Jose Ortiz ends up after having ridden several contenders in this race in their last starts. Haunt raced somewhat greenly first out at 6 furlongs and seems like he’ll appreciate the stretch in distance.
Maiden Special Weight Free Picks:
Felix The Fox @ 6.00 Betfair SB, PaddyPower
Ownitifyouwantit @ 7.50 BetVictor, Betfair SB
Quentin Franks Racing
Launched in July 2014
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Quentin Franks Racing
Launched in July 2014
Return on Investment
Race 12 – The Davona Gale (Grade 2) (22:01 GMT / 17:01 ET)
Race 12 looks to be the filly version of the Fountain of Youth with 3-year-old fillies prepping for the road to the Kentucky Oaks. The favorite is Jaywalk coming off her commanding wire-to-wire score in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last November. Jaywalk owns the controlling speed and the rail and I’m having trouble seeing a scenario where she’ll lose this race. I’m taking Jaywalk to win this race as the odds-on favorite.
Underneath Jaywalk I like Champagne Anyone who comes here running second off a November layoff for trainer Ian Wilkes. Champagne Anyone has the best closing kick of anyone and after Jaywalk dispatches of the rest of the speed, only the closers should be left standing.
High Regard is the other closer in the field. She comes from the barn of Vicki Oliver and will be ridden by Javier Castellano for the very first time. I can easily see her rounding out the trifecta.
The Davona Gale Free Picks:
Jaywalk @ 1.33 BetVictor, Ladbrokes
Champagne Anyone @ 9.00 BetVictor, Bet365