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Juvenile champion colt Good Magic makes his heavily-anticipated 3-year-old debut this Saturday in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. A field of 10 will line up to contest the race, which serves as a Kentucky Derby points race. The winner receives 50 points, second place 20 points, third place 10 points, and 5 points to the fourth-place finisher. This is the second of three races at Gulfstream Park that serve as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables’ Good Magic has been training forwardly leading up to this race after amazingly breaking his maiden in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Even though it was only his first victory, he was still extremely impressive, easily putting away solid horses like Solomini and Bolt d’Oro. For trainer Chad Brown, the Fountain of Youth is the perfect starting point.
“The year is filled with promise,” Brown said. “The horse, knock on wood, is very healthy. His battery is recharged. He’s a fresh horse. We’re excited to get his 3-year-old year kicked off and hopefully one filled with success and no interruptions.
“He’s been working well. The little time off did him well. He’s filled out some; he’s grown some. The type of things you want to see age 2 to 3 in physical development, he’s doing.”
Trainer Dale Romans entered a trio of 3-year-olds in the Fountain of Youth, including Albaugh Family Stables’ Free Drop Billy, second last out in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream last time out. The Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity winner has run nothing but solid races other than a poor performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he faced off with Good Magic. Romans believes that race was nothing more than a fluke.
“The biggest thing about his (Holy Bull) performance is that it shows the race in California was just a fluke and he came back to his old form. You don’t know for sure until you run a horse. I was very pleased with his race. It was a really fast-run race according to all the numbers you look at. His numbers actually moved forward to an all-time top,” Romans said. “He trained so well before the race. He trained so well up to the Breeders’ Cup too, so we didn’t know what we have. He stepped up and showed us that something was wrong that day that we probably will never know.”
The Fountain of Youth will go off as race 14, the last on a stakes-packed day of racing at Gulfstream. Local post time for the race is 6:09 ET, but in typical Gulfstream Park form, don’t expect the race to go off until much later. The field from the rail out: He Takes Charge, Free Drop Billy, Peppered, Strike Power, Storm Runner, Good Magic, Gotta Go, Marconi, Machismo, and Promises Fulfilled.
#6 Good Magic – The time is now for our number one-ranked Kentucky Derby prospect! Good Magic has been training beautifully leading up to this challenge, and this should be the perfect starting off point to his 3-year-old campaign. If he comes back strong, then it will be hard for any of these horses to beat him, and there’s really no reason to think he’s not going to be ready to roll. However, off of this kind of layoff, it’s probably not wise to make him a single or key him on top, and don’t forget that this horse only has one win. Regardless, the hype of having the Juvenile champion back makes for a fun weekend, and he should be set up to show us a solid performance.
#2 Free Drop Billy – After a solid second-place effort in the Holy Bull, it looks like Free Drop Billy is back to his old self. After an extremely poor performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, there were thoughts that he may have peaked too early, but that doesn’ seem to be the case. He now makes his second start off of the layoff for Romans, which should mean that he’s sitting on a big race. Is he good enough to beat Good Magic? He’s at least talented enough to make it interesting. WILL SCRATCH – Now pointing to Gotham.
#8 Marconi – If you want to see a picture of raw talent, just take a look at this horse. This $2 million purchase has yet to live up to that kind of hype, but you can tell that he has plenty of talent. His biggest issue seems to be with the gate, as he hasn’t gotten away cleanly in any of his races. Also, last time out in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes, it seemed like he could have passed Firenze Fire for second at any point in the stretch, but never did. He could have a hard time staying focused, or maybe he’s just really green. However, it’s a great sign that trainer Todd Pletcher has entered him in this spot, considering how tough the race is going to be. Perhaps he has him straightened out and ready to show some improvement.
#5 Storm Runner – He pulled off a nice 6-1 upset over the highly-regarded Mississippi last time out in an allowance race and gives Romans another solid runner in this spot. He ran well second off of the layoff in that last race, and you have to love that he has a win at this distance and at this track. However, from a talent perspective, I’m still a little skeptical that he’s as good as this crop’s top-flight horses.
#10 Promises Fulfilled – The third Romans runner will be making his 3-year-old debut after a solid third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to round out his juvenile season. We have been down this road with Romans horses already, though, as we know that they usually need a race before they are ready for a top-flight effort. Take a wait-and-see approach with him here.
#7 Gotta Go – He ran well to finish second in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes in his last start and will now stretch out to two turns for the second time here. His first two-turn experience was a disaster at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Jockey Club, but he’s bred to run well going long. There should be plenty of pace for him to run at in this spot, which is good, as he’s going to drop back and try to make one run at the end.
#1 He Takes Charge – Slowly but surely, this improving colt managed to break his maiden last time at Gulfstream in his fifth try. Since moving to the dirt, he’s been solid in every race, which gives him hope here. His price will have to be right in order to make a wager, but if he can get a solid pace to run at, then he could become dangerous. He’s faced some tough foes since coming to Gulfstream, so don’t expect him to be overwhelmed by the talent in this field. He’s in with a shot at a price.
#4 Strike Power – Can he stretch out and take his speed around two turns? That’s the big question mark for this undefeated horse that’s never trailed at any point in a race. There’s no doubt that he should be on the lead in this spot, but can he relax on the front end? In his last race, horses were beginning to close in on him, and that race was only 7 furlongs long. He looks to be a very talented horse, but he has some proving to do in this spot.
#9 Machismo – A big-time maiden special weight winner last time out, he’ll now try to step up against major stakes company. In his three maiden special weight losses, he was defeated by quality horses, but unfortunately, he’s up against more quality horses in this spot. He needs to keep improving.
#3 Peppered – He has just one career start on the dirt, and that performance did not go well, finishing twelfth in the Kentucky Jockey Club. This race is tougher than anything that he’s faced before, so things don’t look promising for him.
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