Kentucky Derby Preps: Fountain of Youth

By Margaret Ransom

The Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set out in the 1500s in search of a mythical fountain, which was believed to be located in the southeastern part of the North American continent and gave all who drank from it eternal youth.

Gulfstream Park named a race in honor of the mythical tale and now in its 79th running, the $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) has become a key stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby (G1), which is set for May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Holy Bull Stakes (G3) winner Greatest Honour, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 10 entered for Saturday’s Fountain of Youth.

Five Fountain of Youth winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby —Tim Tam (1958), Kauai King (1966), Spectacular Bid (1979), Thunder Gulch (1995), and Orb (2013). Five others finished second or third in the Fountain of Youth before wearing the garland of roses — Iron Liege (1957), Pleasant Colony (1981), Swale (1984), Unbridled (1990) and Go for Gin (1994).

Fourteen horses have completed the Fountain of Youth-Florida Derby double, the most recent being Orb in 2013 [trained by McGaughey]. Orb is also one of four to complete the Fountain of Youth-Florida Derby-Kentucky Derby hat trick. The other three are Tim Tam (1958), Spectacular Bid (1979) and Thunder Gulch (1995).

Some other famous names pulled from the winner’s list throughout its history include: In Reality, Al Hattab, Shecky Greene, Darn That Alarm, Vicar, Songandaprayer, Mohaymen and Gunnevera.

The race was not run in three years – 1946, 1948 and 1952, but in 1983, 1986 and 1993 the race was split and run in two divisions. In 1947 it was run twice – early in the year for 3-year-olds and again late in the year for 2-year-olds. The race has three records for a final time because the race has been run at three distances — 1 mile in 1:35.01 (2009, Quality Road); 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 (1978, Sensitive Prince); and 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.87 (2010, Eskendereya). In 2012, Gulfstream added a second finish line so the Fountain of Youth and other dirt races could be contested at 1 1/16 miles.

Todd Pletcher and Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas have both saddled three winners apiece. Pletcher sent out Scat Daddy (2007), Eskendereya (2010) and Itsaknockout (2012), the latter finishing second before being elevated to the victory following the disqualification of the actual winner, Upstart. Lukas saddled Dance Floor (1992), Thunder Gulch (1995) and High Yield (2000).

In 2019, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez was aboard Code of Honor to pick up his fifth career Fountain of Youth win and take a one-race lead in over fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey. He also rode Scat Daddy (2007), Quality Road (2009), Eskendereya (2010) and Orb (2013). A year ago, Ete Indien won for trainer Patrick Biancone and jockey Florent Geroux. After a third-place finish in the Florida Derby, the Summer Front cold was sixth in a Gulfstream Park allowance race in June and hasn’t raced since. He is, however, back in training and eyeing a return to action later this year, according to Biancone’s daughter and assistant, Andie.

Since the Fountain of Youth is a “Road to the Derby” qualifying event to make the gate for the Run for the Roses, it offers points on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the top four finishers.

Saturday’s weather is expected to be warm and pleasant, with partly cloudy skies and highs in the low 80s. Expect fast and firm conditions all day. A total of 14 races have been carded of which nine are stakes and eight graded.

The Fountain of Youth is the 14th and final race on the day with a post time of 6:04 p.m. ET. The field, from the rail out, with jockeys, trainers, and odds:

Fountain of Youth Stakes Entries, Odds, Jockeys, Trainers

1. Drain the Clock (Edgard Zayas, Saffie Joseph, Jr.) 5-1

Maclean’s Music—Manki, by Arch

2. Prime Factor (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Todd Pletcher) 5-1

Quality Road—Haylie Brae, by Bernardini

3. Sososubtle (Paco Lopez, Armando De La Cerda) 20-1

Speightster—Subtle Livie, by Mr. Livingston

4. Fire At Will (Kendrick Carmouche, Mike Maker) 7-2

Declaration of War—Flirt, by Kitten’s Joy

5. Jirafales (Javier Castellano, Gustavo Delgado) 20-1

Social Inclusion—Gran Pashit, by Horse Chestnut

6. King’s Ovation (Corey Lanerie, Dale Romans) 15-1

Not This Time—Karen’s Silk | High Cotton

7. Tarantino (Tyler Gaffalione, Rodolphe Brisset, 8-1

Pioneerof the Nile–Without Delay, by Seeking the Gold

8. Greatest Honour (Jose Ortiz, Shug McGaughey) 9-5

Tapit—Tiffany’s Honour, by Street Cry

9. Tiz Tact Toe (Rajiv Maragh, Bob Hess, Jr.) 30-1

Tourist—Lafirma, by Giant’s Causeway

10. Papetu (Junior Alvarado, Antonio Sano) 15-1

Dialed In—Lady Malkin, by Sharp Humor

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.