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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – An unbelievably sharp break from the gate put Ete Indien on the lead, a position he used to crush his competition in the stretch en route to winning Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Shooting like a rocket from the far outside post 11 under Florent Geroux as the 3/1 third choice on the tote, Ete Indien was leading by multiple lengths before the rest of the field had even completed the short run-up to the clubhouse turn. Gear Jockey was closest early as Ete Indien posted opening fractions of :23.14, :46.72, and 1:11.30.
Given the green light near the exit of the far turn, Ete Indien flashed his afterburners and put the field to shame. Extending powerfully in the stretch, Ete Indien finished a geared-down 8 1/2 lengths much the best ahead of his competition.
Trained by Patrick Biancone, Ete Indien completed the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track in a final time of 1:43.02.
“The horse needs to cooperate, especially in the first turn,” explained Geroux, who inherited the mount while regular rider Luca Panici rehabs an injury. “This is when you need to focus on the start and how you’ll take the first turn. As soon as I secured a spot, I just put the horse on cruise control and the horse was nice and easy, started flopping his head and took a nice breather. When he got into a rhythm, he just felt very good. He wanted to get out at first when he saw the lights, but he’s very professional. I didn’t think he was that quick, to be honest. I didn’t think he had this kind of speed, which gives us way more options in the future.”
A four-way photo for second ultimately went to Candy Tycoon by a neck over As Seen On Tv, with Shotski and Country Grammer a head and a neck further back, respectively. The two longest shots came next, with Masterday (114/1) and The Falcon (132/1) taking sixth and seventh in order.
Gear Jockey weakened to eighth, outkicking only Liam’s Lucky Charm and the 6/5 favorite Dennis’ Moment to complete the order of finish. Chance It and Makabim were scratched, with Chance It expected to return in next week’s Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Perhaps just as surpring as Ete Indien’s performance was the lackthereof from Dennis’ Moment, the odds-on favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in his last start but went to his knees out of the gate and never recovered.
“He bobbled out of the gate (today), but then after that, he regrouped and I thought I was in a good spot,” said Flavien Prat, who inherited the mount because Irad Ortiz, Jr., was overseas to ride Mucho Gusto in the Saudi Cup. “When I hit the 5/8 pole, he just dropped the bit, and after that, I was done. After that, there was no reason to beat him up. He didn’t want to go.”
The Fountain of Youth is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Ete Indien earned 50 points for the win, with Candy Tycoon receiving 20 for second, As Seen On Tv 10 for third, and Shotski 5 for fourth.
Ete Indien’s win was his first at the stakes level and improved his overall record to 5-3-1-0 with $333,156 earned for co-owners Linda Shanahan, Sanford Beacon, Dream With Me Stable, Horse France America, D P Racing, and Patrick Biancone Racing. The 3-year-old son of Summer Front was most recently second in the local Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and was also eighth in the Bourbon Stakes (G3) last fall.
“We have been through a week of hiccups,” Biancone said. “First, we lose our jockey, and second, we draw (outside), but good horses can overcome everything and I think he’s an exceptional horse. We look forward to the future. I want to see how he comes back, how he works the next time.
“He’ll need to improve a little bit to be able to win the Florida Derby (G1),” Biancone said, referencing his future plans for Ete Indien. “We’re here in Florida, he’s training in Florida, and we love Florida. I think we’ll take a shot if he’s in good form.”
Ete Indien returned $8.60 to win, $4.40 to place, and $3 to show. Candy Tycoon brought back $16.40 to place and $7.60 to show, while As Seen On Tv paid $3.20 to show.
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