Following a week of minimal action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Championship Series returns Saturday with all eyes focused on champion Good Magic’s 3-year-old debut in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park.

  The 72nd renewal of the Fountain of Youth – the second of 16 Championship Series races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve – will award 85 points to the Top 4 finishers: 50 to first, 20 to second, 10 to third and 5 to fourth.

  The 1 1/16-mile race is the finale on a 14-race card at Gulfstream Park with a scheduled post time of 6:09 p.m. (all times Eastern).

  Also, a trio of Road to the Kentucky Oaks races (Top 4 Points: 50-20-10-5) will be run: Gulfstream Park’s Grade II, $200,000 Davona Dale (Race 8 at 3 p.m.); Aqueduct’s $200,000 Busher (Race 8 at 4:56 p.m.); and Santa Anita’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel (Race 6 at 6 p.m.).

  The 144th runnings of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles and $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) for 3-year-olds at 1 ¼ miles will be staged at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. in nine weeks on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, respectively. – Darren Rogers


 Named 2-year-old champion male despite only a single win, Good Magic established himself as a leading contender for the 2018 Kentucky Derby recording a dominant maiden-breaking tally in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I) at Del Mar. He will receive the first tune-up when opening his 3-year-old season in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (GII) at Gulfstream Park.

  Installed as the 7-5 favorite on the morning line, Good Magic drew favorably in post 6 for his first appearance in 119 days and Jose Ortiz has the return call for Chad Brown. The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth is worth a total of 85 points (50-20-10-5) as a Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier.

  The $1 million yearling purchase opened his racing career with a close second in a Saratoga maiden race and Good Magic jumped to stakes-company with a fine second in the Champagne (GI) at Belmont Park. The chestnut son of Curlin offered an eye-catching move to the lead leaving the far turn of the Juvenile and rolled home to a 4 ¼-length decision, registering excellent BRIS Speed (105) and Late Pace (109) numbers.

  Strike Power will try to carry his speed two turns as the likely pacesetter. A convincing winner from a pair of starts, the Mark Hennig-trained Speightstown colt exits a 2 ¾-length score in seven-furlong Swale (GIII) and leading rider Luis Saez retains the mount on the early 4-1 second choice.

  Free Drop Billy will also try to capitalize upon a recency edge, posting a respectable second in the Feb. 3 Holy Bull (GII) at Gulfstream, and the Grade I-winning juvenile is one of three in the Fountain of Youth field for trainer Dale Romans. Robby Albarado replaces Saez aboard the son of Union Rags and Free Drop Billy is pegged at 9-2 on the morning line.

  Last-out allowance victor Storm Runner and Promises Fulfilled, who makes his first start since a third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), also represent Romans. They are listed as outsiders at 15-1 and 20-1, respectively.

  Todd Pletcher will send out Marconi, a $2 million Tapit colt who finished third making his stakes debut in the Feb. 3 Withers (GIII). The half-brother to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Mucho Macho Man will make his first start outside of Aqueduct and Javier Castellano retakes the mount.

  Rounding out the field are Swale runner-up Gotta Go; recent maiden winners Machismo and He Takes Charge; and Peppered, who must show more after an unplaced effort in his first dirt start. – James Scully,

SNOW DELAYS EURO ROAD TO DERBY – A Siberian winter blast in England and Ireland has postponed the two European Road to the Kentucky Derby races that were scheduled this week after snow forced the cancellation of racing at both host racetracks.

  Thursday’s Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes at Kempton Park has been moved to Wednesday, March 7, while Friday’s Patton Stakes at Dundalk will now be staged on Friday, March 9.

  Triple Crown nominees entered in Kempton’s Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes were Gronkowski and Three Weeks.

  Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) winner Mendelssohn had an entry in the Patton for his 3-year-old debut. He could return in Saturday’s seven-furlong Spring Cup (Listed) at Lingfield along with stablemates Seahenge and Threeandfourpence. All three also are nominated to the March 31 UAE Derby and the Triple Crown.

  The Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes and Patton Stakes – one-mile races over synthetic tracks – will offer Top 4 points on a scale of  20-8-4-2.

  The European Road to the Kentucky Derby series will climax March 30 with the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle Racecourse, in which points will increase to 30-12-6-3 for the Top 4 placings.

  At the series’ end, only one invitation to compete in the Kentucky Derby will be extended with preference given to the horses with the most points in the European Road to the Kentucky Derby series. No invitation will be extended beyond the Top 4 point earners. – Darren Rogers



BREEDERS’ CUP JUV WINNERS’ SUCCESSGood Magic jumped into the Kentucky Derby picture following his maiden-breaking score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) on Nov. 4 at Del Mar. The Chad Brown-trainee is scheduled to return from a 119-day layoff in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth (GII) at Gulfstream Park. Below is a look at the horses who were on the Kentucky Derby trail and made their next start after the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile from a more than 60-day layoff:


BC Juvenile Winner


Finish (margin)



Classic Empire

Holy Bull

3 (8 ¾ lengths)




San Vicente

1 (1 ½)



Texas Red

San Vicente

2 (neck)



Shanghai Bobby

Holy Bull

2 (2)




Holy Bull

2 (5)



Uncle Mo

Timely Writer

1 (3 ¾)



War Pass


1 (7 ½)



Street Sense

Tampa Bay Derby

1 (nose)



Stevie Wonderboy

San Rafael

2 (1 ½)



Action This Day


4 (1 ¼)





2 (nose)




San Felipe

3 (3 ¾)



Answer Lively


7 (7 ¼)



Favorite Trick


1 (1 ¾)



Boston Harbor

Santa Catalina

4 (14 ¾)



Unbridled’s Song


2  (½)



Timber Country

San Rafael

3 (2)




Prix Omnium II

1 (5)



Fly So Free


1 (1)





7 (8)





4 (9 ¾)




Manassa Mauler

1 (3)



Chief’s Crown


1 (3 ¼)


– Kevin Kerstein

 SWALE WINNERS STRETCHING OUT – Strike Power, the winner of the Swale (GIII) at Gulfstream Park, will attempt to stretch out in distance around two turns in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth (GII). Below are the Swale winners from the last 20 years that tried running two turns on the Derby trail in their subsequent start:



Swale Winner


Finish (margin)



Awesome Banner

Fountain of Youth

5 (26 lengths)




Florida Derby

7 (13 3/4)





4 (10 1/4)



This Ones For Phil


2 (1 3/4)



Adore the Gold

Fountain of Youth

4 (1)



Sharp Humor

Florida Derby

2 (1/2)



Ethan Man


5 (11 3/4)





1 (1)



Favorite Trick

Arkansas Derby

3 (neck)


 – Kevin Kerstein

 DOWN THE STRETCH – Owner Ahmed Zayat reported via Twitter on Tuesday that Los Alamitos Futurity third-place finisher Solomini is likely to run in the March 17 Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park. “We love that route – worked for us before with Bodemeister and American Pharoah,” Zayat said. This could mean that stablemate McKinzie, winner of the Jan. 6 Sham (GIII), is likely to stay home at Santa Anita for the March 10 San Felipe (GII). … Springboard Mile winner Greyvitos had his first work Monday since undergoing surgery to have a chip removed from his knee after the Dec. 17 race. The colt breezed three furlongs in :37.20 at Santa Anita for trainer Adam Kitchingman. … Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer confirmed this week that New York-based jockey Dylan Davis will have the call on San Vicente (GIII) winner Kanthaka as he challenges Champagne (GI) and Jerome winner Firenze Fire in the March 10 Gotham (GIII) at Aqueduct. … Exclamation Point, the half-brother of champion Classic Empire, is entered in a first-level allowance at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. … The nomination process for the 2018 Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade Presented by Kroger will remain open until March 18. For more information and to nominate a survivor, visit – Kevin Kerstein



Eyes will be on Southern California one week from Saturday in what is expected to be the seasonal debut of Breeders Cup Juvenile (GI) 3-5 beaten-favorite Bolt d’Oro in the $400,000 San Felipe (GII) at Santa Anita Park. Trained by his owner Mick Ruis, Bolt d’Oro remains close to the top of many experts’ early selections for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) following a 7 ¾-length romp in the Sept. 30 FrontRunner. The $630,000 Fasig-Tipton August purchase by Medaglia d’Oro traveled extremely wide throughout his third-place journey in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was defeated 5 ¼ lengths by eventual 2-Year-Old Champion Good Magic.

·     Horse information: (4-3-0-1—$576,000)

o        Owner: Ruis Racing LLC (Mick Ruis)

o        Trainer: Mick Ruis

o        Current Jockey: Javier Castellano

o        Breeder: WinStar Farms (Ky)

o        Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado)

o        Dam: Globe Trot (A.P. Indy)

o        Purchase Price: $630,000 (2016 Fasig Tipton August)

o        Named After: sire Medaglia d’Oro and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt

Owner/Trainer information: Ruis, 56, grew up in Southern California and quit high school to begin working in construction. Ruis began splitting time between San Diego and Montana when he started his own construction company, which he eventually sold for $2.5 million and began training horses. Ruis decided to leave the horse racing business in 2007 to start a scaffolding company which he eventually sold for $78 million in 2016. The lucrative sale led Ruis to purchase several expensive yearlings and return to training in 2017.

– Kevin Kerstein



 March plays a pivotal role for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Point values rise for prep races and the overall picture begins to sort itself out. Five qualifiers offering a combined 85 points (50-20-10-5) will be offered over the next three weeks and the sense of anticipation surrounding the return of leading contenders only adds to the excitement.

  Good Magic, the champion 2-year-old male, will be back Saturday in the Fountain of Youth (GII) at Gulfstream Park. The son of Curlin exits a 4 ¾-length romp in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), which has been rated as the strongest race of the Prep Season in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

  Bolt d’Oro recorded impressive wins in the Del Mar Futurity (GI) and FrontRunner (GI) before making a mess of the break in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) and winding up a troubled third as the 3-5 favorite. He’s gearing up for his sophomore return in the March 10 San Felipe (GII) at Santa Anita.

  Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Solomini, who was last seen finishing first in the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI) in mid-December (DQ’ed and placed third), is scheduled to launch his 3-year-old campaign in either the San Felipe or March 17 Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park.

  No point races were offered but we witnessed some horses with possible Triple Crown aspirations last week.

 Other 3-year-olds

   Reride stepped forth in the Feb. 25 Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park, easily surpassing previous efforts with a front-running 2 ½-length victory that registered a 103 BRIS Speed rating. By Candy Ride (ARG), the Steve Asmussen-trained colt finished sixth when making his stakes bow in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) in late November and hung on by a nose to win his sophomore bow, the seven-furlong Big Drama at Delta Downs on Jan. 13. He hadn’t run fast before and the massive jump looks suspicious, but Reride remains eligible to back up it next time. Last year, the Sunland Derby (GIII) came under scrutiny when the winner improved significantly with a 103 Speed rating at Sunland, but the number didn’t look too bad when fourth-placed Irap came back to win the Blue Grass (GII) and runner-up Conquest Mo Money followed with a half-length second to Classic Empire in the Arkansas Derby (GI). Mine That Bird Derby runner-up Runaway Ghost, who was beaten 36 lengths when fifth behind Solomini in the Los Alamitos Futurity, received a 100 Speed rating finishing 15 ¼ lengths clear of third.

  Westerdale did not disappoint as the 3-5 favorite in his third career outing, seizing command at the break and drawing away to a 14 ¾-length decision over a sloppy track at Aqueduct on Feb. 25. He earned a career-best 91 BRIS Speed rating in the one-turn mile event and Tom Morley trains the Flat Out colt, who crushed five overmatched maiden foes and counts 2011 Travers (G1) runner-up Rattlesnake Bridge as a half-brother. The dark bay was making his first appearance since a close third in late November and Westerdale recorded a non-threatening third in his debut to Mask, who followed with an impressive win in the Jan. 6 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park but hasn’t logged an official work for Chad Brown since Jan. 20.

  Penalty rallied to win his unveiling by nearly a length, taking a seven-furlong maiden at Gulfstream on Feb. 24, and Bill Mott trains the late-starting son of Blame. Out of a stakes-placed daughter of Empire Maker, Penalty hails from a classy female family but was overlooked at 13-1 in his initial outing. He garnered a respectable 90 BRIS Speed rating.

  Magicalmeister offered a wide bid to the front in upper stretch and determinedly held by a half-length in the Feb. 23 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park, lighting up the tote board with a 39-1 upset. Conditioned by James Chapman, the Bodemeister colt captured his first career start by nearly 10 lengths at Mahoning Valley on Jan. 9 and was exiting a well-beaten third in a Feb. 10 entry-level allowance/optional claimer on Turfway’s Polytrack. Magicalmeister had been earning BRIS Speed numbers in the 70s but received a 91 stretching out to 8 ½ furlongs. He will try to back it up in the March 17 Jeff Ruby Steaks (formerly the Spiral), which offers points on a 20-8-4-2 scale toward a Kentucky Derby berth.

  Bourne in Nixa relished sloppy conditions upsetting the six-furlong Gazebo at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 24, closing fast to defeat 10-length maiden scorer and 2-5 favorite Mitole by a 1 ¾-length margin. The winner, a More Than Ready colt, netted a career-best 96 BRIS Speed rating and appears to be making fine progress for trainer Steve Margolis. However, the top two are likely best-suited for one-turn distances.

 Up Next

   Good Magic has been installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite among 10 rivals in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth.

  Juvenile Grade I winner Free Drop Billy can flatter Audible following a runner-up finish in the Feb. 3 Holy Bull (GII), unbeaten Strike Power stretches out to two turns off a convincing win in the Swale (GIII) and Marconi will try to improve upon a third in the Withers (GIII) in his second stakes attempt for Todd Pletcher.

  He Takes Charge and Machismo are a couple sharp maiden winners jumping straight to stakes company and I give both a chance to hit the board at long odds.

  March 10 features a trio of qualifiers in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series: the San Felipe, Tampa Bay Derby (GII) and Gotham (GIII) at Aqueduct.

  Bolt d’Oro enters 2018 as the top-ranked horse on the West Coast but is expected to face a stiff challenge in the San Felipe from the Bob Baffert stable. The four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer will choose between heavyweights Solomini and McKinzie (with the other heading to the Rebel) and has several promising types under consideration including Restoring Hope, who exits a convincing maiden tally in early February.

  The Gotham will be held at a one-turn mile and Kanthaka looms as a top contender following a convincing win in the seven-furlong San Vicente (GII) at Santa Anita.

  Flameaway and Vino Rosso, first and third in the Feb. 10 Sam F. Davis (GIII), are expected back for the Tampa Bay Derby and I’m looking forward to the dirt debut from Grade II winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) runner-up Untamed Domain, a son of versatile 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom who shares the same conditioner in Graham Motion. – James Scully,



The possible fields for Kentucky Derby Championship Series races are fluid as horsemen vie for points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.” Below are known horses (with Road to the Kentucky Derby point totals) mentioned to be under consideration for each race based on published news reports and other sources. Again, the shape of these fields is fluid and some horses are considered “possible” for multiple races:

MARCH 10 GOTHAM – $300,000 Gotham (GIII) to be run over one mile at Aqueduct in Ozone Park, N.Y.: Firenze Fire (24), Enticed* (13), Cove Blue (0), Kanthaka (0), Quip (0). Points to Top 4: 50-20-10-5.

MARCH 10 TAMPA BAY DERBY – $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (GII) to be run over 1 1/16 miles at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla.: Flameaway (10), Tiz Mischief* (6), Vino Rosso (2), Untamed Domain (0). Points to Top 4: 50-20-10-5.

MARCH 10 SAN FELIPE – $400,000 San Felipe (GII) to be run over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.: McKinzie* (20), Bolt d’Oro (14), Solomini* (14), Lombo (10), Ayacara (GB) (4), Aquila* (0). Points to Top 4: 50-20-10-5.

MARCH 17 REBEL – $900,000 Rebel (GII) to be run over 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.: McKinzie* (20), Solomini* (14), Combatant (12), My Boy Jack* (10), Tiz Mischief* (6) Zing Zang (1), Aquila* (0), Curlin’s Honor* (0), High North (0), Higher Power (0), Magnum Moon (0), Pryor (0), Title Ready (0). Points to Top 4: 50-20-10-5.

MARCH 17 JEFF RUBY STEAKS – $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) to be run over 1 1/8 miles (S) at Turfway Park in Florence, KY: Magicaclmeister (0). Points to Top 4: 20-8-4-2.

 MARCH 24 LOUISIANA DERBY – $1 Million Louisiana Derby (GII) to be run over 1 1/8 miles at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La.: Bravazo (54), Snapper Sinclair (22), Instilled Regard* (19), Avery Island (14), Catholic Boy* (14), My Boy Jack* (10), Noble Indy (10), Dark Templar (9), Retirement Fund (0). Points to Top 4: 100-40-20-10.

MARCH 25 SUNLAND DERBY – $800,000 Sunland Derby (GIII) to be run over 1/18 miles at Sunland Park in Hobbs, New Mexico: Justify (0), Reride (0), Runaway Ghost (0), Transgress (0). Points to Top 4: 50-20-10-5.

 MARCH 31 UAE DERBY – $2 million UAE Derby (GII) to be run over 1 3/16 miles at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai: Gold Town (GB) (0), Rayya (0). Points to Top 4: 100-40-20-10.

MARCH 31 FLORIDA DERBY – $1 million Florida Derby (GI) to be run over 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.: Catholic Boy* (14), Audible (10). Points to Top 4: 100-40-20-10.

APRIL 7 WOOD MEMORIAL – $750,000 Wood Memorial (GII) to be run over 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct in Ozone Park, N.Y.: TBA. Points to Top 4: 100-40-20-10.

APRIL 7 BLUE GRASS – $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (GII) to be run over 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky.: TBA. Points to Top 4: 100-40-20-10.

APRIL 7 SANTA ANITA DERBY – $1 million Santa Anita Derby (GI) to be run over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.: Instilled Regard* (19). Points to Top 4: 100-40-20-10.

APRIL 14 ARKANSAS DERBY –$1 million Arkansas Derby (GI) to be run over 1 1/8 miles at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.: My Boy Jack* (10). Points to Top 4: 100-40-20-10.

APRIL 14 LEXINGTON – $200,000 Lexington Stakes (GIII) to be run 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, KY.: Curlin’s Honor* (0). Points to Top 4: 20-8-4-2.

*Under consideration for multiple races.


TRIO OF OAKS PREPS ON SATURDAY – The $200,000 Davona Dale (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park is the first of three Road to the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series races on Saturday that award 50-20-10-5 points to the Top 3 finishers.

  Phipps Stable’s impressive maiden and first-level allowance winner Fly So High will make her stakes debut against 3 ½-length Forward Gal (GIII) winner Take Charge Paula in the one-mile Davona Dale.

  Midnight Disguise, 4 ¼-length winner of the Jan. 25 Busanda for trainer Linda Rice has the home course advantage in the $200,000 Busher at Aqueduct, but she’ll have to face California invader and Sweet Life winner War Heroine and Florida-based Forward Gal (GIII) third My Miss Lilly. Midnight Disguise and My Miss Lilly are the only Kentucky Oaks-nominated fillies in the one-mile race.

  The Oaks action concludes with the $100,000 Santa Ysabel (GIII) over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita where undefeated Starlet (GI) and Las Virgenes (GII) winner Dream Tree faces 4 ½-length Santa Ynez (GII) winner Midnight Bisou for the third time. Dream Tree hung a nose on Midnight Bisou in the first two races of their careers, a six-furlong maiden at Santa Anita in October and Del Mar’s seven-furlong Desi Arnaz in November. – Kevin Kerstein

RAYYA ROLLS IN UAE OAKS Rayya, owned by Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi and trained by Doug Watson, rolled to a comfortable victory in Thursday’s $250,000 UAE Oaks (GIII) at Meydan Racecourse to collect 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

  The Kentucky-bred daughter of Tiz Wonderful was the lone Kentucky Oaks nominee in the field of six 3-year-old fillies.

  Rayya covered 1 3/16 miles in 1:59.66 to defeat Godolphin’s Expressly (FR) by 3 ¾ lengths. Odds-on favorite Winter Lightning (IRE), another Goldolphin charge, narrowly won a photo for third over Sa’ada.

  Rayya is likely to face males in her next start, the $2 million UAE Derby (GII) on the March 31 Dubai World Cup undercard.

  “We’ll hopefully get invited to the (UAE) Derby and then we’ll see,” Watson told Meydan Group’s media relations manager Michael Adolphson. “(The Kentucky Oaks) would be (a goal). We have her nominated, but let’s see how she comes out of this and the Derby.”

  Rayya, out of the Coronado’s Quest mare Spread, was bred by Mineola Farm II LLC, James W. Hirschmann and Silent Groves Farms LLC. She is a half-sister to 2017 Cougar II Handicap (GII) winner Curlin Road, who finished fourth in that year’s Pacific Classic (GI). – Darren Rogers




·        Episode 9: (Round Table Discussion scheduled to be released Thursday)

·        Episode 8:

·        Episode 7:

·        Episode 6:

·        Episode 5:

·        Episode 4:

·        Episode 3: 

·        Episode 2:

·        Episode 1:

Complete PDF Version with More Information: The Derby Dispatch.pdf