HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Robert Baron’s Promises Fulfilled shot to the front early and never looked back, wiring a field of eight other horses that seemed content resembling a carousel in Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking sharply out of post 10 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Promises Fulfilled immediately took command by a length and set a moderate early pace, posting uncontested splits of :23.80, :48.39, and 1:12.60. Given the cue past the 1/4 pole, Promises Fulfilled responded well when Strike Power began closing along his outside, shedding off his attacker in the final furlong and finding an extra gear to win by 2 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:44.17 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“I thought that he could open up, and he did,” Romans said. “It was a bunch of fast horses, but a lot of times that speed doesn’t materialize, and coming from the outside, it kind of pressed our hand. On the turn, if you wait to see what everybody else does, you’re going to be hung wide. I just told the jock, ‘Push the pedal and try to open up and see where they go from there. If somebody comes and chases you down the backside, then ride a smart race.’ They let him go in :48 with his ears up, and I knew it was going to take a heck of a horse to pass him at that point.”
Strike Power’s solid effort resulted in a well-placed second, not bad for his first time stretching out to two turns for trainer Mark Hennig.
“I thought he ran well,” Hennig said. “He handled it well, the fact that he had to settle off that horse (Promises Fulfilled). They were dead-set on being there. I think he got a little tired. He went from 5 1/2 (furlongs) to 7 to now this. Hopefully, he can keep moving forward.”
Another 2 1/4 lengths, the heavily-favored Good Magic had to settle for third in his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall. His connections were left hoping that his inability to close through the far turn, as he had at Del Mar, was due to rust.
“He got a good trip,” said trainer Chad Brown. “He had no trouble and got good position early. The latter part of the race, he didn’t have it. The horses that were 1-2 the whole way just kicked ahead of him. The horse came back a little tired. He was blowing pretty good. It looked like he needed the race. Hopefully, he got what he needed out of it and go on to the next step.”
Machismo took fourth over Marconi by 1 1/4 lengths for the all-important last Derby points slot. Gotta Go, Promises Fulfilled’s stablemate Storm Runner, He Takes Charge, and Peppered completing the order of finish. Free Drop Billy, a third Romans entry, was scratched Saturday morning with plans to compete in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct next weekend.
The Fountain of Youth is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Promises Fulfilled earned 50 points for the win, with Strike Power receiving 20 for second, Good Magic 10 for third, and Machismo 5 for fourth.
Promises Fulfilled’s victory came in his first start outside of the state of Kentucky. The 3-year-old son of Shackleford won at both Churchill Downs and Keeneland before finishing a very green third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last out. The three-month layoff didn’t seem to affect him any, though, and his $238,080 share of the purse increased his career earnings to $327,280. Romans hinted that he would stay here and train towards the Grade 1 Florida Derby.
“If a horse runs good here, you keep them here,” Romans said. “I had a lot of confidence in this horse because of the way he trained. He trained so well, and the race he ran when he was third was as impressive a race as a horse can run. To do what he did and be as compromised as he was and still run third to two good horses, he’s a special horse.”
Promises Fulfilled returned $38.40 to win, $12.80 to place, and $4.60 to show. Strike Power brought back $6.40 to place and $3.60 to show, while Good Magic paid $2.20 to show.