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