Trainer Todd Pletcher has so many promising three-year-old colts that his most pressing challenge may be to work out a schedule of future stops on the Road to the Kentucky Derby for all of them.
The primary goal of trainers with multiple Triple Crown hopefuls is usually to keep their paths from crossing, but Pletcher may well make an exception for the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 26.
Two of Pletcher's more exciting prospects are currently penciled in to start in the 1 1/16-mile prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 31. The eight-time defending Gulfstream training champion has determined that both Discreet Dancer and Algorithms would benefit from the experience in the two-turn Fountain of Youth.
Although Discreet Dancer missed a workout last Monday due to a high temperature, Pletcher said the undefeated colt is still on course for the Fountain of Youth.
"He had a 102-and-change temperature. We cancelled the work and did some blood work on him. Everything came back normal and he's had a couple of good days since then," he said. "We think we're still on schedule for the Fountain of Youth. Obviously, we'll have a key work on Monday and if we can get two more works, I think we'll be OK. But we'll need to see those works to know for sure."
Discreet Dancer debuted at Gulfstream on December 3 with a sparkling romp by nearly 10 lengths at 5 1/2 furlongs. The son of Discreet Cat stretched out to a mile on January 7 and posted a front-running 5 1/2-length victory.
Undefeated Algorithms, who debuted at Belmont on last June to win a five-furlong sprint by more than five lengths, is also two-for-two during the Gulfstream meeting. The son of Bernardini notched a length victory in a 6 1/2 -furlong allowance on December 16, before drawing off to a five-length triumph in the Grade 3 Holy Bull over one mile on January 29.
"Right now, we're looking at the Fountain of Youth for him too. He came out of the Holy Bull, really well. His energy is good. His weight's good," Pletcher said. "We feel like he needs two-turn experience, so right now we're leaning toward the Fountain of Youth. If we feel like we need more time, we'll just wait on the Florida Derby."
Pletcher also trains El Padrino, a colt with stakes experience as a two-year-old who made an auspicious 2012 debut by winning a stakes-quality allowance race on January 29 by two lengths.
"He's a talented colt that we've thought a lot about from the very beginning. We felt in the allowance race he really put it all together. He's maturing at the right time," Pletcher said. "He's strong, well-minded colt, so we're keen on him."
With so many promising three-year-olds in his barn, Pletcher must ship some to other racing venues. El Padrino, who finished third in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct in November, is likely to start in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on February 25.
Undefeated Gemologist, who captured the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on November 26 in his last start, is expected to make his 2012 debut in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn on March 17.