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Commissioner breezes half-mile for Fountain of Youth

  • Commissioner (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Commissioner, who ran his win streak to two races with an impressive allowance victory at Gulfstream Park on January 3, put in his final breeze for the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth on Sunday morning.

With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard, the three-year-old A.P. Indy colt was clocked in :49 for four furlongs on the fast main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

It was the fourth work for Commissioner since his last race, including a pair of five-furlong breezes in 1:00 3/5 on February 2 and 1:00 4/5 on February 16. He is trained by Todd Pletcher for owner WinStar Farm.

"He went well," Pletcher said. "We had a couple of good five-eighths in him prior to this, so we were just looking for a maintenance half. He seemed to be moving well, and everything is on target for the Fountain of Youth."

A major prep for Gulfstream's signature race, the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29, as well as a the May 3 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth will be run for the 71st time on Saturday.

Commissioner ran twice as a juvenile, finishing second in his debut at Monmouth Park last August before breaking his maiden in a professional effort at Saratoga 17 days later. He was given time off after that race by design before rejoining Pletcher's string in South Florida, and returned to the races with a neck victory over another major Fountain of Youth contender in Top Billing at Gulfstream on January 3 -- his second straight win at nine furlongs.

"It's kind of rare that you have one that's already won twice at a mile and an eighth this time of year," Pletcher noted. "I think he's gotten a little more handy as time has gone on. He's going to be able to position himself in a race where it won't be too big of a disadvantage backing up to a mile and a sixteenth. In his case, we'd actually prefer that the Fountain of Youth was a mile and an eighth like it was for a little while there. Physically, he's doing well. He looks great."

Also expected to show up for next Saturday's Fountain of Youth is Medal Count. Trainer Dale Romans is leaning toward running the Spendthrift Farm colorbearer in the race off a January 12 dead-heat allowance victory over Gulfstream's turf. The son of Dynaformer made his sophomore bow in that grass contest following an unplaced effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 2.

Medal Count has breezed four times since last month's effort, most recently covering five furlongs over Gulfstream's fast dirt in 1:01 on Saturday morning.

"I think we're going to run," Romans said. "He worked great going five-eighths. He's a good horse and does everything right."

A $360,000 Keeneland yearling purchase, Medal Count aired by 6 1/4 lengths in his off-the-turf debut at Ellis Park on September 1. He followed that with a close fifth in the Bourbon that was washed onto the Keeneland Polytrack a month later, and faded to finish 11th in the Breeders' Cup after racing too close to a fast pace.

A large field is expected for the Fountain of Youth, which will offer Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 50-20-10-5.

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