Greatest Honour winning the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park (Lauren King/Coglianese Photography)
Back in 2013, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey won the $300,000 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park with Orb, a stretch-running colt who went on to claim victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Eight years later, McGaughey is returning to the Fountain of Youth with Greatest Honour, a similarly late-running youngster with Derby aspirations.
Saturday’s renewal of the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth has attracted 10 promising three-year-olds, all vying for the 85 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification points
at stake for the top four finishers. The winner will receive 50 points, virtually guaranteeing a spot in the Derby starting gate.
Greatest Honour is bound to be a popular choice among bettors. The 9-5 morning line favorite enters off an eye-catching victory in the Holy Bull
(G3) racing 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream, in which the son of Tapit unleashed a bold bid around the far turn to score by 5 3/4 lengths over Tarantino
(second), Prime Factor
(fourth), and Jirafales
The top five finishers from the Holy Bull will reunite over the same track and distance for the Fountain of Youth, but Greatest Honour’s stiffest challenge may come courtesy of a newcomer. Drain the Clock is a speedy sprinter with a 4-for-5 resume, including blowout victories in the Limehouse S. and Swale (G3) at Gulfstream. His lone defeat came when an equipment malfunction caused Drain the Clock to lose his rider in the Jean Laffite S. last fall; otherwise, the chestnut colt is unbeaten and essentially unchallenged.
But Drain the Clock has never run farther than seven furlongs, so stepping up in class and distance for the Fountain of Youth is a question mark. The same challenges apply to King’s Ovation, who rallied to finish second by 6 1/4 lengths in the Swale.
Yet the biggest wildcard in the Fountain of Youth field might be Fire At Will, a decisive winner against international competition in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last November. The 7-2 second choice on the morning line is a class standout with three stakes wins under his belt, but his lone run on dirt produced a narrow victory in the With Anticipation S. over sloppy footing at Saratoga. Considering Fire At Will is bred top and bottom to thrive on grass, it’s unclear whether he can reproduce his A-game on fast dirt.
Completing the Fountain of Youth field are Gulfstream maiden winner Sososubtle and the longshot Tiz Tact Toe, who has yet to finish better than fourth in a trio of starts on turf. Claimed out of his latest effort by trainer Bob Hess, Tiz Tact Toe has since been gelded and will hope to improve while switching to dirt and adding blinkers.
The Fountain of Youth is one of nine stakes races taking place on Saturday at Gulfstream, with a projected post time of 6:10 p.m. ET. Earlier in the afternoon, a dozen three-year-old fillies will take aim at 85 Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualification points in the $200,000 Davona Dale S. (G2).
By far the most accomplished runner in the one-mile race is Vequist
, the champion two-year-old filly of 2020 after posting pace-tracking victories in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Spinaway (G1). A daughter of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist
, Vequist is the only graded stakes winner in the Davona Dale field, and her tactical speed should ensure she receives a clean trip under hot jockey Irad Ortiz. Even while returning from a four-month break, Vequist looks tough to beat.
If anyone can take down the favorite, it’s probably Curlin’s Catch, who brought her dirt record to a perfect 2-for-2 with a runaway victory in the Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs three weeks ago. The daughter of Curlin has shown versatility in terms of running style and has the pedigree to improve with maturity, stamping her as an intriguing up-and-comer to watch.
Absent from the Davona Dale field is Zaajel, winner of Gulfstream’s Jan. 30 Forward Gal
(G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. But the form of the Forward Gal will still be represented by Lady Traveler
(third), Competitive Speed
(sixth), and Three Tipsy Chix
(seventh), four fillies who will hope to show improvement while stretching out from seven furlongs to one mile.
Other Road to the Kentucky Oaks veterans in the Davona Dale field include Alcibiades (G1) runner-up Crazy Beautiful and Demoiselle (G2) second-place finisher Millefeuille. Crazy Beautiful has already squared off against Vequist once before, finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Adios Trippi, a pure front runner coming off a victory in the seven-furlong Gasparailla S., will try to stretch her speed against tougher company in the Davona Dale. The same goes for Hindsight, a determined maiden winner dashing seven furlongs at Churchill Downs last fall.
The stakes-placed Happy Constitution and the lightly-raced allowance competitor Pens Street round out the Davona Dale field. Post time is 5:04 p.m. ET.
Looking forward to following the action at Gulfstream Park? The Fountain of Youth, the Davona Dale, and the rest of the Saturday races can be watched and wagered on at TwinSpires.com