Fountain of Youth Stakes Preview

The Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) drew a field of 11 for Saturday’s running at Gulfstream Park on March 2, 2019. The 1 116-mile race with a $400,000 purse will put the winner in the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1), as it is part of the Championship Series prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and worth 50-20-10-5 points to the top four finishers. Some of the contenders will likely return for a run in the 1 18-mile Florida Derby (G1) on March 30 back at Gulfstream.

Nine graded races highlight a big day of racing on March 2 at Gulfstream. The Fountain of Youth is Race 13 with a post time at 5:32 p.m. (ET), while Race 12 is the $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) for three-year-old fillies, which is a 50-20-10-5 points contest on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner and champion Jaywalk is the heavy 2-5 morning-line favorite in that one-mile affair.

The 2019 Fountain of Youth field and odds:

  1 – Code of Honor (6-1)
  2 – Epic Dreamer (20-1)
  3 – Gladiator King (50-1)
  4 – Bourbon War (10-1)
  5 – Vekoma (7-2)
  6 – Signalman (9-2)
  7 – Hidden Scroll (9-5)
  8 – Global Campaign (10-1)
  9 – Everfast (20-1)
10 – Frosted Grace (30-1)
11 – Union’s Destiny (40-1)

Hidden Scroll is the 9-5 morning-line favorite trained by Bill Mott and ridden by strong closer Joel Rosario. The son of Hard Spun burst onto the Derby scene with his only race to date, a 14-length romp going a mile over a sloppy Gulfstream track on January 26. He showed sensational speed on that off track and we’ll find out if he’s a Derby player stepping up against graded winners.

Vekoma is a Candy Ride colt who has won his two career races thus far, with both coming in New York. His most recent victory was the Nashua Stakes (G3) in November and now he tries two turns for the first time off a four-month layoff with Manny Franco aboard.

Signalman is a Kenny McPeek-trained colt ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. He’s hit the board in all five lifetime starts, with one of his two wins including the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in late November. That followed a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on November 2.

Code of Honor is another contender and will be ridden by John Velazquez. He finished second in his second start in the Champagne Stakes (G1) in October at Belmont Park, but was fourth in his recent start at Gulfstream in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit the profile of a Fountain of Youth winner, as noted below.

Epic Dreamer led from start to finish before fading to fourth in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) most recently at Gulfstream while Everfast finished second in that race at 128-1. Global Campaign is a Curlin colt who has the best shot to upset the Fountain of Youth after winning under wraps in his only two races to date. Bourbon War is another value contender who could close similar to his most recent impressive stretch-winning rally.

Ten of the last 12 Fountain of Youth winners raced at Gulfstream Park in their previous start, but only three of them ran in the Holy Bull Stakes. Mohaymen (2016) captured both races while Gunnevera (2017) finished second and Scat Daddy (2007) ran third. Also, 10 of the last 11 Fountain of Youth winners finished no worse than second in their previous start, and six of them were exiting victories.

Since the Fountain of Youth was inaugurated in 1945, five horses have won the FOY and gone on to win the Kentucky Derby – Tim Tam (1958), Kauai King (1966), Spectacular Bid (1979), Thunder Gulch (1995) and Orb (2013). Spectacular Bid (1979) and Eskendereya (2010) both won the Fountain of Youth by a record 8 14 lengths, and in 2010 the Fountain of Youth was contested at 1 18 miles. Sensitive Prince completed the 1 116-mile distance in a record 1:41 in 1978.

Is there a big longshot in the 2019 race that can payoff big? Not likely, but a pair of capable 10-1 shots are noted above. In 1996, Built For Pleasure paid $288.20 as the biggest longshot to ever win the Fountain of Youth at 143-1. Last year’s winner, Promises Fulfilled, was sent off at 18-1 and went wire to wire for the upset, returning $38.40 for the victory.

The late Scat Daddy won the 2007 Fountain of Youth for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez. Scat Daddy became a sensational sire following his retirement from racing and produced 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.

MUCCIOLO: 2019 Fountain of Youth Study Guide
MUCCIOLO: Fountain of Youth is the Best Bet of the Weekend
SCULLY: Hidden Scroll installed as 9-5 favorite in 11-horse Fountain of Youth