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Fountain of Youth Stakes Weekend

Date: 02/24/2008

The $350,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park is the first major 2-turn test at the prestigious winter meeting. A field of 12 Triple Crown hopefuls went to the gate in this 1 1/8 mile trip around the main track in Hallandale, with Monba sent off as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite, off a fourth place finish in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park. Remsen and Iroquois winner Court Vision was the 4-1 second choice, making his first start in 2008, over 9-2 third choice Kentucky Bear, a runaway winner of his debut last time out.

Cool Coal Man

Photo courtesy of

18-1 Golden Spikes took the lead on the clubhouse turn and set fractions of 24.03 and 47.62 with 12-1 Make The Point stalking him in second. Kentucky Bear and Monba contested fifth place while Court Vision was unhurried at the tail end of the field. On the far turn, pacesetter Golden Spikes dropped back as Make The Point took a brief lead getting 3/4 in 1:11.52, but 7-1 Cool Coal Man, who raced close in fourth the whole way, came out three wide to challenge for the lead entering the stretch. Cool Coal Man took over at the 1/4 pole, opened up a 1 1/2 length lead after a mile in 1:36.32. 9-1 Elysium Field put in a strong rally down the center of the track but Cool Coal Man held him off in the final strides to prevail by 1/2 a length in 1:50.07 over the fast track. It was a long 5 3/4 lengths back to Court Vision in third, while favorite Monba flattened out into the stretch and finished last.
Results Chart

Winning trainer Nick Zito said, "He couldnít have gotten a better trip. I had confidence going in with the post that Kent would get a good position with him. Heís run two great races here. With the slow pace, my other horse (Anak Nakal) really had no chance. He needs pace up front. I canít say where or what race (Cool Coal Man) will run in, possibly the Florida Derby. Heís not a big horse. Heíd need to have a good 30 days from now. Weíll see."

Winning jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "Being in the one hole already gave me a luxury. We all really hustled for position going into the first turn. We were fortunate to get in good position. I had to encourage him to stay on the rail. When he got the lead he started to look around and he idled. I stopped hissing at him for about 40 yards, and when I started back, he took off again. I was concerned about (Elysium Fields). Itís hard to sustain that kind of speed for a long time, but when we were galloping out after the wire he moved out again once he felt the other horse come up to him. My horse was very handy and attentive to my needs. I think we went faster than what the clock said. But time is irrelevant; we won!"

War Pass

Photo courtesy of

In the race immediately after the Fountain of Youth, undefeated juvenile champion War Pass made his 2008 debut for trainer Nick Zito, in a $60,000 allowance race over 1 mile around one turn. War Pass was sent off as the 1-20 favorite in the field of five over his stablemate Web Gem at 9-1. In what turned out to be a public workout, War Pass took over the lead shortly after the start, and under firmly held reins, set quick fractions of 23.94, 46.72, and 1:11.90 while about 3 lengths ahead of 32-1 Chadwell in second. In mid-stretch, jockey Cornelio Velasquez loosened the reins and the champion drew off without encouragement, cruising under the line 7 1/2 lengths ahead of Web Gem in 1:36.38. It was a long 16 1/4 lengths more to Chadwell in third.
Results Chart

Winning trainer Nick Zito said, "You still have anxiety no matter how you look at it. When horses havenít run for a long time, there are injuries every day, so I know how grateful I am. Heís unbelievable. Thatís what we wanted for him. (The Tampa Bay Derby) will be a little tougher. I was happy for the fans. Iím a fan myself. Iím grateful to Gulfstream Park for putting the race on. (War Pass) broke like a rocket. It would have been nice if he had sat back, but as long as he keeps winning, Iím happy. Heís a special horse, he really is."

Jockey Cornelio Velasquez added, "Heís a very happy horse. Heís the best horse in the country right now. Heís better than last year, he galloped out really strong. He wanted to win today."

The Saturday feature at Gulfstream was the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (G1) for older horses going 1 3/8 miles on the turf. 3-1 second choice Einstein settled in third first time past the stands while 8-1 Thorn Song set a pace of 23.80, 47.44, 1:11.95, and 1:36.08. Entering the stretch, as Thorn Song faded from contention, Einstein responded when asked by jockey Jose Lezcano, gaining a 1 length lead at the 1/8 pole. 38-1 Dancing Forever closed well but Einstein held him off for the hard-fought victory by a neck in 2:12.87 over the firm course. It was 3 lengths back to 5-2 favorite Stream of Gold third.
Results Chart

Winning trainer Helen Pitts said, "I was concerned that he was up close with the fractions that fast. I wasnít real happy when they posted 1:11, but heís a very good horse and was able to go on. It was a great race. I did have some question early in the week whether to run in this race because we really want to go back to New Orleans for the (Mervin Muniz Jr., March 8), but he was doing so well we decided to go ahead. He ran a big race in this one last year with a rough trip (third after winning 2006 edition). Weíll see how he comes out of this before we decide whether to go back to New Orleans in just two weeks. Weíll do the right thing for him."

Jockey Jose Lezcano added, "I wanted to sit in second, but it was slow going, so I went to the front. Helen told me he could come from anywhere, the front, the back, the middle. He was very nice to ride. I thought we would win today."

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