Tami Bobo's Simplification rebounded off a runner-up finish to White Abarrio in the Feb. 5 Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes with a commanding score in the March 5 $400,000 Grade 2 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Antonio Sano, Simplification needed a late charge to finish second in the Holy Bull Stakes following a bad break from the gate. That was not the case this time under Jose Ortiz as he notched his first graded-stakes win in his first race around two turns.
"I liked the trip," Sano said of the Fountain of Youth performance. "I told Jose this morning, 'You don't need to run in the front. A good start is very important.'"
Santa Rosa Racing Stables' Markhamian, starting on the rail post position, immediately made the lead and led through fractions of :23.77 and :48.27. As the field passed the six-furlong marker in 1:12.19, Simplification circled six-wide around the far turn, avoiding a two-horse spill in the process, and took the lead entering the stretch, kicking away to a 3 1/2-length victory.
Simplification paid $7.00, $4.20 and $3.60 with a winning time of 1:44.04 for the 1 1/16-miles on a fast main track.
"I knew he was going to be tough today," Jose Ortiz said of the winning colt. "I worked him last week and Antonio had a lot of confidence in him. He broke well. He pulled me into the race. He put me there. At the three-eighths pole, I decided to go wide and follow Emmanuel and he was there for me."
On the far turn, jockeys Junior Alvarado, aboard LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable's High Oak, and Joel Rosario, on Oxo Equine's Galt, were thrown from their colts. High Oak had made contact with Bobo's Saffie Joseph-trained A.P.'s Secret, and Galt then leapt over the fallen High Oak. Both Bill Mott trainees were corralled by the outriders following the spill and Alvarado and Rosario were both on their feet following the race.
"I worried for the jockeys going down, but I wasn't worried about my horse because he was outside and clear," Sano said of the incident.
Alvarado was expected to go to Aventura Hospital to get his ankle checked out. Rosario walked to the jockey's room and was expected to be evaluated for some back pain. High Oak and Galt, both trained by Bill Mott, walked back to the barn.
Simplification is following the path of Sano's Gunnevera, who won the 2017 Grade 2 XpressBet Fountain of Youth Stakes —from the same No. 2 post position—after having finished runner-up in the Holy Bull. The son of Dialed In went on to finish third in the Grade 1 XpressBet Florida Derby and seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands.
"Five years later, history repeated itself," an exuberant Sano said. "We have an awesome horse. We're excited with the owners we have. Not This Time is great stallion. Simplification has done everything right with every step since he got to the barn."
Sano's son Alex said they would wait to make a decision on whether to run in the Florida Derby, even if Simplification came out of the Fountain of Youth with no issues.
Bobo credited Nick and Valerie de Meric, who train the owner's 2-year-olds, with helping her enjoy success as an owner. It was Valerie who alerted Bobo of Simplification's effort late in the race.
"I was dealing with the grandkids, dropping stuff under the table, and then when I heard Valerie screaming, I jumped up to look," Bobo said. "I looked at the video screen and was just out of my mind."
Bobo, raised in the horse industry, has been a thoroughbred owner for 11 years. She owned Take Change Indy but sold the colt before his 2012 Florida Derby victory.
"Simplification was bought to be a yearling pinhook. He had a little more sesamoiditis than one would like," Bobo said. "I realized there was going to be a significant decrease in the value and I really wasn't in position to have to sell the colt."
The 3-year-old bay son of Not This Time basically earned a starting spot in the May 7 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodward Reserve by virtue of acquiring 50 points toward the Run for the Roses.
Runner-up In Due Time, owned by Edge Racing, Medallion Racing and Parkland Thoroughbreds, earned 20 points toward the Kentucky Derby. Third-place finisher O Captain, owned by OGMA Investments and Jack Hardin Towell, Jr., got 10 points, and fourth-place Emmanuel, owned by WinStar Farm and Siena Farm, earned 5 points. -Charlie McCarthy
Kathleen O. Wins Davona Dale to Stay Undefeated
The dark bay/brown daughter of Upstart made it 3-for-3 in her brief career by rallying from last at the top of the stretch to earn a two-length victory over Classy Edition. The triumph earned 50 points toward the May 6 Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks, essentially assuring her of qualifying for the race.
"Off of this, yes," trainer Shug McGaughey said of a potential start in the Oaks. "We'll see how she comes back. I'll probably point her for the (Gulfstream Park) Oaks if she's doing right. If there's a little something I'm not pleased with, we'll wait.
"My preference would be to keep her here, and not have to ship her for the Ashland or something like that."
The $250,000 Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks is April 2, while the $600,000 Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland Stakes is April 8 at Keeneland.
Mi Negrita, under Junior Alvarado, made the lead after breaking from the gate. The filly set fractions of :23.38 and :46.04 as Kathleen O., the 2-1 favorite under Javier Castellano, broke from the inside post position and settled near the back.
Sweet Dani Girl, with jockey Jose Ortiz, moved to engage leaders Mi Negrita and Girl With a Dream three-wide in the turn. Sweet Dani Girl moved in front after six furlongs in 1:10.77 and led into the stretch, at which point Kathleen O. angled out from behind horses to charge to victory on the outside.
The winning time of 1:36.23 for the one-turn mile was good enough to defeat Classy Edition and rider Irad Ortiz Jr. Cocktail Moments finished 1 1/4 lengths back in third under Corey Lanerie. -Charlie McCarthy