HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Multiple Grade 1 winner Practical Joke, unraced since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 5, and multiple stakes winners Irish War Cry, Gunnevera and Three Rules are among 40 nominees to the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) to be run Saturday, March 4 at Gulfstream Park.
The 71st running of the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth for 3-year-olds serves as the final prep for Gulfstream’s signature race, the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles April 1. It is one of nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.5 million in purses on the March 4 program.
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Practical Joke has been working steadily at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, for his return. He won each of his first three starts, including the Hopeful (G1) and Champagne (G1) before rallying to be third behind Classic Empire in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Fellow Grade 1 winner Classic Empire was also among the nominees for the Fountain of Youth but unlikely to run with an abscess in his right front foot which emerged following his third-place finish in the Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) Feb. 4 at Gulfstream, trainer Mark Casse said.
Casse has another pair of possibilities for the Fountain of Youth in Lookin for Eight, a Gulfstream maiden winner at seven furlongs Jan. 28, and multiple stakes-placed State of Honor, second in the Mucho Macho Man Jan. 7 at Gulfstream and third in the Sam F. Davis (G3) Feb. 11 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Isabelle de Tomaso’s New Jersey homebred Irish War Cry improved to 3-0 with a front-running victory in the Holy Bull, his graded stakes debut, having won the Marylander at Laurel Park in his juvenile finale. Saratoga Special (G2) and Delta Jackpot (G3) winner Gunnevera rallied to be second in the Holy Bull, also in his first start at 3.
Florida-bred Three Rules won his first five races including a sweep of the Florida Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds before finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He was second as the favorite in the seven-furlong Swale (G2) Feb. 4 at Gulfstream in his sophomore debut.
Trainer Todd Pletcher nominated 13 horses to the Fountain of Youth, 10 of them coming off victories. Among them are recent Gulfstream allowance winners Battalion Runner, Bronson and Malagacy; Mucho Macho Man winner Sonic Mule; Tapwrit and Master Plan, 1-2, respectively, in the Pulpit; Just One More winner Third Day; multiple graded stakes winner Made You Look, whose six career starts have all come on turf; and undefeated Action Everyday.
Also nominated to the Fountain of Youth are undefeated multiple graded stakes winner McCraken, Peruvian Group 1 winner Huracan Americo, graded stakes-placed Irap and Takaful, and multiple stakes winner Cool Arrow.
Multiple graded stakes winner Miss Sky Warrior, Grade 1 winner Pretty City Dancer and Tequilita, who extended her win streak to three races in the Feb. 4 Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream, top 24 nominees to the $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Davona Dale for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.
Graded stakes winners Ami’s Flatter, Donegal Moon, Flatlined, Greenpointcrusader, Madefromlucky, Prayer for Relief, Red Rifle and Stanford are among 23 horses nominated to the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper (G3) at one mile on the main track.
On turf for 4-year-olds and up are the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) at 1 3/8 miles and the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) at one mile which drew 26 and 27 nominations, respectively, including Grade 1 winners Interpol and Lukes Alley.
Eighteen older fillies and mares were nominated to the $150,000 The Very One (G3) led by multiple Grade 3 winners Goldy Espony, Olorda and Suffused while the $100,000 Sand Springs, also for females 4 and older, attracted 26 nominations. Both races are run over Gulfstream’s grass course.
Sophomore turf stakes are the $100,000 Palm Beach (G3) for 3-year-olds, which has 31 nominations led by Made You Look, and the $100,000 Herecomesthebride (G3), whose 20 nominees including Graham Motion-trained stakes winners Happy Mesa and Party Boat.
Source: Gulfstream Park