There’s intense interest in the prep races that propel a horse to victory in the Kentucky Derby.
But what about the preps for preps? Namely, are there certain types of horses who shine in specific prep races?
A year ago in this space we looked at the recent history of the Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth Stakes. Now, with the next edition of this key Derby prep on tap for Saturday at Gulfstream Park, let’s look back at that information in light of one more year of results.
If there’s one thing that sticks out about the Fountain of Youth, it’s that a start over the racetrack is vitally important. After Gunnevera’s victory in the 2017 Fountain of Youth, which came after a second-place finish in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream, it meant 10 of the last 11 winners of the Fountain of Youth previously raced at Gulfstream.
That stat figures to carry added importance in Saturday’s race as the center of attention will be the 3-year-old debut of Good Magic, the champion 2-year-old of 2017 who has not raced since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar.
Gunnevera’s win also helped balance the data on the races that produced Fountain of Youth winners.
A year ago, six of the last 10 Fountain of Youth winners previously ran in an allowance race and two exited the Holy Bull.
Now the numbers show six of the last 11 winners ran in allowance race and three raced in the Holy Bull.
More importantly, history now says that the last two Fountain of Youth winners ran in the Holy Bull as 2016 Fountain of Youth winner Mohaymen also won the Holy Bull, the traditional prep for the FOY contested a month earlier at Gulfstream Park.
Prior to that, it was Scat Daddy who advanced from a third-place finish in the Holy Bull to a victory in the 2007 Fountain of Youth – and the Florida Derby after that.
As for the allowance races, the six FOY winners were Itsaknockout in 2015, Orb in 2013, Soldat in 2011, Eskendereya in 2010 and Cool Coal Man in 2008, all of whom were coming off a winning performance, and Quality Road in 2009 who was second in his prep.
Beyond them, Wildcat Red won the Hutcheson at Gulfstream and then prevailed in the Fountain of Youth.
Meanwhile, the lone Fountain of Youth winner since 2007 who did not race at Gulfstream was Union Rags, who was returning from a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
Also keep in mind, Fountain of Youth winners are usually coming off a strong performance. Ten out of 11 of them finished no worse than second in their last race, and six of them won that previous start.
So, there’s the numbers. Now let’s see if they will hold up for another year.