There are some similarities between the Jan. 30 Holy Bull Stakes and Saturday’s Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes — both are contested at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park —yet there are huge differences in the two stakes.
After Saturday, there will be only nine weeks left until the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, enhancing the importance of the Fountain of Youth from a conditioning standpoint. More importantly, with 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points going to the winner, whomever prevails Saturday will be assured of having enough points to start in the run for the roses.
1. Drain the Clock (5-1 morning line): He’s a superb sprinter who won his last two races by a combined margin of 13 3/4 lengths but is racing beyond seven furlongs for the first time, which isn’t always a formula for success on the Triple Crown Trail. Yet Gulfstream is kind to speed horses and can propel horses to run a little longer than they might at other tracks. The combination of his speed and the possibility of a ground-saving trip from the rail makes him a major factor here.
JOCKEY: Edgard Zayas; TRAINER: Saffie Joseph Jr.
2. Prime Factor (5-1): He came up empty in the stretch as a 11-10 favorite in the Holy Bull. That’s anything but a strong endorsement for his chances here, but if trainer Todd Pletcher is willing to give him a second chance at this level and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is willing to stay on board, he merits a long look and might wake up in what will be just his third start.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
3. Sososubtle (20-1): He won nicely in his first dirt race, but that was against Florida-breds and the final time was fine, but not quick enough to paint him as a major threat here.
JOCKEY: Paco Lopez; TRAINER: Armando De la Cerda
4. Fire At Will (7-2): He’s the X Factor in this field. On turf, he’d be a heavy favorite off a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Presented by Coolmore America. But on dirt? We’ll find out more Saturday. He did start once on the main track and won, but that came on a sloppy track in a 2-year-old stakes that was shifted from turf to dirt. He’s facing significantly tougher competition and figures to be an underlay due to his prowess on turf.
JOCKEY: Kendrick Carmouche; TRAINER: Mike Maker
5. Jirafales (20-1): He took a big jump from a 6 ½-furlong maiden win against Florida-breds to the Holy Bull and lost by 17 lengths after a slow start. Hard to imagine him improving enough to be a factor this time around.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano; TRAINER: Gustavo Delgado
6. King’s Ovation (15-1): He was second to Drain the Clock in the seven-furlong Claiborne Farm Swale Stakes, albeit a little more than six lengths behind. The added distance should help narrow that margin, but he’s also a question mark as he’s yet to race beyond seven furlongs.
JOCKEY: Corey Lanerie; TRAINER: Dale Romans
7. Tarantino (8-1): Like King’s Ovation, he was a distant second to a Fountain of Youth starter, finishing 5 ¾ lengths behind Greatest Honour in the Holy Bull. That performance and a record of two wins and two seconds from four starts paints him a threat, but he prefers to run just off the lead and that could be challenging with Drain the Clock in the field.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione; TRAINER: Rodolphe Brisset
8. Greatest Honour (9-5): If you bet on him at 40-1 as a maiden winner in the January round of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, you had to be ecstatic the following weekend when he romped in Holy Bull. Now the question is how Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will get him to the Kentucky Derby. He’s definitely the horse to beat here, but it could get tough for him if Drain the Clock is allowed to cruise along on the front end.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz; TRAINER: Shug McGaughey
9. Tiz Tact Toe (30-1): He’s a maiden who was claimed last time out for $50,000 while finishing fourth on the turf. With a pedigree that seems to tilt toward turf and an outside post, hitting the “All” button seems like the only way to include him in your wagers.
JOCKEY: Rajiv Maragh; TRAINER: Robert Hess Jr.
10. Papetu (15-1): He was fourth in the Holy Bull, 10 ¼ lengths behind at 5-1 odds. His previous race in the Mucho Macho Man was a much better second, but the inevitable ground loss from post-position 10 could compromise his chances of stepping up with an improved effort.
JOCKEY: Junior Alvarado; TRAINER: Antonio Sano
THE PICK: Greatest Honour
LIVE LONGSHOT: Tarantino