Five Takeaways from Fountain of Youth Stakes

Ete Indien heads to the winner’s circle following his runaway win in the Grade 2 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes Feb. 29 at Gulfstream Park. (Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park)

Tom Pedulla presents five key takeaways from the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes and other major developments on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

CHANCING IT: Although far outside posts have been most unkind to horses in large fields running a route race at Gulfstream Park, trainer Patrick Biancone never considered scratching the colt and searching for another Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep race after Ete Indien drew post 11 for the Fountain of Youth. “No gamble, no future,” he said of his willingness to be a risk-taker. Biancone’s Summer Front colt broke sharply and made the early lead, never looking back for jockey Florent Geroux in a rousing victory worth 50 Derby qualifying points that will be enough to secure a place in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Biancone suggested his Ete Indien's final prep race very likely will be the Curlin Florida Derby on March 28 at Gulfstream.

NOT CHANCING IT: Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., recognizing the difficulty of overcoming the far outside post in a large field at Gulfstream, viewed the situation very differently from Biancone. He made the difficult decision to scratch Chance It from the Fountain of Youth after drawing post 12 and instead will point to the Tampa Bay Derby next Saturday. “We thought about it long and hard,” Joseph said. “It’s a tough post to overcome. I’ve never had a horse like this. I want to respect him and do what’s right. I want to give him a fair chance.”

NOT HIS MOMENT: Things went horribly awry for Dennis’ Moment for the second consecutive start when he struggled home last in the Fountain of Youth as a thoroughly beaten 13-10 favorite. It was easy to draw a line through the colt’s previous race after he stumbled at the start of the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and never recovered. Trainer Dale Romans was almost speechless after the latest debacle, expressing concern about a possible injury. “Getting beat is one thing. To run like that, there is just something bothering him,” Romans said. “The rider [Flavien Prat] said at the five-eighths pole he just dropped the bit on him.”

Tonalist's Shape (Eclipse Sportswire)

OAKS-BOUND: Saffie Joseph Jr. came to South Florida from his native Barbados with two horses in 2011, intent on developing an operation capable of winning the biggest races. Now, he is bound for the Longine Kentucky Oaks with seemingly a big shot after Tonalist’s Shape remained undefeated through five starts with an impressive victory against runner-up Spice Is Nice in the $200,000, Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes. The daughter of Tonalist gained 50 Oaks qualifying points, bringing her total to 60 points overall. That will be more than enough to assure her a starting spot in the Oaks. “It’s everything you dreamed of,” Joseph said. “I mean, we have a long way to go, but to secure a spot, this is why I came over — dreams and dreams come true.”

CLOSING IN: Jockey Edgar Prado, 52, used an upset aboard With Verve in the $100,000 Hutcheson Stakes to earn his 7,054th victory and move to within three wins of Angel Cordero Jr. for eighth all-time. Prado guided 18.30-1 With Verve from last to first to edge Shivaree by a neck. When trainer Larry Bates was asked what prerace instructions he gave to Prado, he replied, “What can you tell Edgar? I told Edgar what I’ve told him the last 35 years — have a nice day.”

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