HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Through four victories to open his career, the last three of them in Grade 2 stakes, Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen has handled both adversity and his competition with the ease of a horse considered the top 3-year-old prospect on the East Coast.
On Saturday, the stakes get higher when Mohaymen faces a field that includes fellow undefeated horses Awesome Banner, himself a multiple graded stakes winner, and late-developing Zulu in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The 70th running of the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth for sophomores highlights a 13-race card that features eight stakes, six of them graded, including the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2), $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3), Palm Beach (G3) and Herecomesthebride (G3), $100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3), $100,000 Sand Springs and $75,000 Texas Glitter.
First race post Saturday is noon.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Mohaymen kicked off his 3-year-old season with a 3 ½-length victory in the $350,000 Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) Jan. 30, his first time over Gulfstream’s main track. Bumped back at the start, he settled in third before splitting horses leaving the backstretch and drawing away impressively from Grade 1 winner Greenpointcrusader after changing leads at the top of the stretch.
“It’s a tough race but I wouldn’t trade places with anybody,” McLaughlin said. “It’s going to be his toughest race to date. Zulu is undefeated. Awesome Banner is undefeated. Awesome Speed is a nice horse. It’s going to be tough and we just hope we keep going and stay the same. We don’t have to improve but it’s more experience and hopefully we get lucky to win.”
McLaughlin credits regular rider Junior Alvarado, who will be back aboard from outside post six as the 120-pound co-highweight, for his contribution to Mohaymen’s success. He had Alvarado work Mohaymen behind horses following the Nashua (G2) last fall, and rode confidently when the situation arose in the Remsen (G2) four weeks later.
“They seem to get along great. I know Junior has a lot of confidence in him and the horse responds to him,” McLaughlin said. “They’re a good team, that’s for sure. Four-for-four, everything has gone well so far.”
Mohaymen has had two half-mile works since the Holy Bull at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. Purchased as a yearling for a sales-topping $2.2 million, he has earned $559,830 in purses to date.
“Most of that [pressure] is behind us now because he’s four-for-four, but in the beginning you want them to do well,” McLaughlin said. “We treat every horse as an individual but you want to win with them all. It has worked out perfectly so far. This is going to be his toughest race to date.”
Trainer Stanley Gold entered both Awesome Banner and fellow Jacks or Better homebred stablemate Fellowship in the Fountain of Youth. Awesome Banner’s three career victories have come by a combined 19 ½ lengths, taking both the Hutcheson (G3) and Swale (G2) 28 days apart last month at Gulfstream to open his 3-year-old season.
The Fountain of Youth will be Awesome Banner’s first try beyond seven furlongs and around two turns. Gold said neither is a particular concern, given the strong way he has finished up in each of his races.
“He hasn’t been asked and he’s got something left. I don’t see any reason he can’t go further. It’s not like we’re pushing him around there and he’s in a stiff drive. He’s been pretty much eased up coming to the wire in both of those races,” Gold said. “And I’m not sure he won’t be more comfortable not even having to get sent to the front. We do come out of there and ask him and once he’s there, we’re just sitting. You won’t have to ask him going two turns. He has a pretty high cruising speed and he always seems to have another gear left.”
Fellowship rallied to be third in the Holy Bull after running fifth in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes behind Awesome Speed Jan. 2. His last victory came in the Florida Stallion In Reality Stakes Oct. 3.
“He’s been the two turns, been in the Holy Bull and got Derby points. He was running at the end,” Gold said. “To those who think he passed tired horses, they need to look at it again. He didn’t just pass tired horses. He was running. He’ll go the distance.”
The regular rider for both horses, Jose Caraballo will be aboard Awesome Banner from post five at 120 pounds. Jose Lezcano is named to ride Fellowship from post one at 116 pounds.
Stonestreet Stables, Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Zulu will be making his stakes debut in the Fountain of Youth for trainer Todd Pletcher. He was unveiled in a two-length victory Dec. 5 and romped by 7 ¼ in his first try against winners Jan. 15. The Bernardini colt will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez from post two at 116 pounds.
“We could have opted for an easier spot but we felt like it was in his best interests to stay on a track that he’s two-for-two on and find out where he fits with the big boys,” Pletcher said. “We think he’s a very talented colt. We anticipate he’s going to improve stretching out. He’ll need to against this group but we’ve been pleased with what he’s done so far and pleased with how he’s trained since the allowance win. We’ll find out a lot more Saturday.”
Colts Neck Stables’ Awesome Speed has reeled off three straight victories since losing his debut last summer at Parx. He captured the James F. Lewis III Stakes Nov. 14 at Laurel Park to close his juvenile season and opened his 3-year-old campaign with a 1 ¼-length triumph in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man. Trainer Alan Goldberg gave the Awesome Again colt plenty of time into the Fountain of Youth.
Irad Ortiz Jr. takes the reins on Awesome Banner from Joel Rosario, who broke his wrist in a spill at Gulfstream Feb. 20. They will break from post four at 120 pounds.
“He does everything pretty easy, and he’s going into the race well,” Goldberg said. “If we can get Kiaran’s horse not to run and maybe Awesome Banner not to run and a few of those others, we’ll have a good shot.”
Golden Legacy Stables’ Golden Ray, third in the OBS Championship Stakes Jan. 26, rounds out the field.
Source: Gulfstream Park