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Gulfstream Park has a 14-race extravaganza this Saturday, with first post time kicking off at 11:30 AM ET. The highlight of the day will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), which will be the feature on Fox Sports Saturday at the Races, broadcast live on Fox Sports 2. The field for this year’s race is stout, comprising of the toughest Kentucky Derby prep race yet. A field of 11 will contest this year’s running of the Fountain of Youth, which will go off as the 13th race of the day.
The horse that we are all waiting to watch is Hidden Scroll, who broke his maiden by 14 lengths on debut on the Pegasus World Cup undercard. The Bill Mott-trained son of Hard Spun came from virtually nowhere; he was not heavily bet like most well-meant first-time starters. The workouts since that effort have been strong, and jockey Joel Rosario will fly in for the mount.
“It was a surprise he won as easily as he did, but I think we were excited and high on him going into the race,” Mott said. “I don’t think it was any surprise to us that he won, but the way he won in the fashion that he won was a bit of a surprise and awesome, to put it mildly.”
Kenny McPeek’s Signalman has also been working out strongly leading up to this race. The last time that we saw Signalman, he was rounding out his 2-year-old season with a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. He was battle-tested as a 2-year-old, which should have him ready to roll this season.
“I think my colt, Signalman, is certainly the most experienced at the highest level,” McPeek said. “He’s already beaten some of them that are running back in there and there are other ones that are unknown quantities. But you got to get them ready and bring them over there and get the job done. I’m pretty confident going over there, but we’ll find out Saturday.”
A horse that is not as battle-tested but has still shown a great deal of talent is Vekoma, another making his 3-year-old debut in this spot. He finished off his brief 2-year-old campaign in the Nashua Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, where he dusted his rivals for an easy victory. In two career starts, he has yet to be challenged, and like Signalman, Vekmoa has been dazzling in his morning workouts.
“We have to ask him the question,” trainer George Weaver said. “It’s that time of year. He’s a very talented horse and we need to find out whether we’ll be headed to the Derby. He’s a good colt. If he can get a mile and 1/16, we’ll take on a mile and 1/8 and see how he does that.”
The full field from the rail out: Code of Honor, Epic Dreamer, Gladiator King, Bourbon War, Vekoma, Signalman, Hidden Scroll, Global Campaign, Everfast, Frosted Grace, and Union’s Destiny.
#7 Hidden Scroll – The “wonder horse” is back after wowing us all on Pegasus World Cup Day with a crazy-impressive maiden special weight score by 14 lengths. This race is really quite simple. If Hidden Scroll can run that kind of figure again, you can forget about the rest of the field; they have no shot. However, will he bounce off of that effort? Can he reproduce that number running two turns for the first time? Will he handle the jump up in class? Those are all logical questions that should give you reasonable skepticism. However, I’ll stick by the horse that I believe has shown the most talent in this crop. Until proven otherwise, Hidden Scroll is strictly the one to beat in a race of this caliber.
#1 Code of Honor – This is a big bounce-back play after he stunk as the heavy favorite in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes. There is no way that he is as bad as what he showed with that effort, and you have to trust that Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has figured this horse out since that contest. It seems like he needed that race last time out after missing time with an illness. His workouts since have been on point, signaling that he is ready to bounce back. McGaughey wouldn’t enter him if he thought he couldn’t win the race. Look for him to lay off the pace this time and come running late.
#5 Vekomoa – It’s finally time to see if this horse can back up the flashy number that he earned when romping in the Nashua. That race caught the eye of nearly everyone; however, we have not seen him since. The talent seems to be there, he’s beaten several next-out winners in his two lifetime races, and his workouts have been strong coming into this event. This race is the moment of truth for several horses, and none moreso than this Candy Ride colt. He looks ready to roll; now he just has to prove it.
#6 Signalman – There is no question that he is working out very well coming into this race. His connections seem over the moon about the development that this horse has shown. There are two big question marks, though, that he must overcome. He has not raced in three months, so will he need a race before showing his best? Also, his win in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes was impressive, but the horses that he beat have come back to run poorly. Will he do the same? Those are the reasons that I have him as an exotic play and not anything more.
#8 Global Campaign – It’s the moment of truth for Global Campaign, who has been flashy with maiden special weight and allowance wins here against lesser company. Those races were won without asking him for his best, which makes you think that there is more in the tank that we haven’t seen quite yet. The main problem for him here is the fact that he has never seen competition like this, or a pace setup that didn’t favor him, both of which are concerning. His talent makes him dangerous, though, so he is not one that you can completely throw out.
#4 Bourbon War – After his flashy allowance win at Gulfstream Park, there was no doubt that he would head to this race next. The level of competition gets much tougher for him in this spot, but this lightly-raced colt has improved with each start. The slight concern here is the fact that his allowance win came against horses that have not run well since. He is going to get a big class test in this spot, which will make or break him, but regardless, he will have some value on the tote board, which makes him an interesting longshot play.
#2 Epic Dreamer – At one time, this horse was high on people’s Kentucky Derby contender lists. After flopping in the Springboard Mile Stakes, he improved last time out in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2), setting a fast pace before fading to fourth. If he can control his speed a bit better this time around, then he’ll have an outside shot; however, he has some proving to do before you can play him in this type of spot.
#9 Everfast – It will be interesting to see how the Holy Bull form holds up in this race. Everfast was a very unlikely second-place finisher in a race that came back very slow by speed figure makers. It’s hard to be sold on him based on that one performance. He will have to prove it again here.
#10 Frosted Grace – This son of Mark Valeski will try stretching out for the first time today after running poorly in the Swale Stakes (G3). This spot is ultra-tough, and he needs to improve by multiple lengths in order to compete with a group like what he will face here.
#11 Union’s Destiny – After a third-place finish in a small stakes to round out his 2-year-old season, it looks like his connections want to give graded stakes company a try. It’s worth a shot; however, this is a very difficult race to enter for your 3-year-old debut. He will likely struggle in this spot.
#3 Gladiator King – The goal must be to run this horse in every 3-year-old stakes in Florida this season. He has proven more than once that he doesn’t belong in a race of this caliber.
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