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Quality Road draws off in the stretch of the Fountain of Youth Stakes
The $250,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park is one of the traditional early preps for the Kentucky Derby. Contested at various distances over its history, this year's edition was run at 1 mile around 1 turn of the main track. A field of ten 3-year-olds went to post on a sunny Saturday afternoon in south Florida, with Capt. Candyman Can sent off as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite exiting a victory in the Hutcheson Stakes. In to challenge the son of Candy Ride included 4-1 second choice This Ones for Phil, winner of the Sunshine Millions Dash last time out for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., and 9-2 third choice Theregoesjojo, winner of an allowance on January 10 after finishing fourth in the Bashford Manor.
As expected This Ones for Phil took the lead immediately under jockey Edgar Prado, clicking off fractions of 23.83, 45.55, and 1:09.40 while being stalked by 5-1 fourth choice Quality Road down the long backstretch run. At the top of the stretch, This Ones for Phil tired to eventually finish fifth, allowing Quality Road to easily take over the lead at the 3/16 pole. Theregoesjojo, who was seventh early, put in a strong rally late but was left with too much ground to make up, as Quality Road cruised under the line 4 1/4 lengths in front in a time of 1:35.01 over the fast main track. It was another 4 lengths back to late-closing 8-1 Beethoven third, with favorite Capt. Candyman Can another length back in fourth.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 11 Quality Road Velazquez 13.00 6.40 4.60 2 Theregoesjojo Desormeaux 5.80 3.80 7 Beethoven Borel 3.80 $2 Exacta 11-2 77.20 $1 Trifecta 11-2-7 261.10 $1 Superfecta 11-2-7-9 1,046.90 Winning Time: 1:35.01Results Chart
Quality Road heads back to the barn after the Fountain of Youth
Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I knew we would have a lot of speed, but the trick was to settle him in there and make him relax. He was ready to run and run today. The closer we got to the finish the stronger I felt we were getting. It's always special to win, but when you can pull off back-to-back (stakes) it's even more special. It was a great day."
Trainer Ken McPeek of 2nd place finisher Theregoesjojo said, "We are really happy. We didn't lay it all down for this race. He wasn't 100% cranked and we're excited about going forward from here. I thought he ran a great race and lost to a very good horse. And believe me, the horse that won is one very impressive horse."
Trainer Ian Wilkes of 4th place finisher and beaten favorite Capt. Candyman Can said, "I thought he ran good. I wasn't disappointed. Of course, you always hope to win a race like this, but the main thing we wanted to see was that he had the talent to keep moving forward. We will see how he comes back, evaluate him and talk to the owners."
Immediately before the Fountain of Youth, a field of 11 older horses went 1 mile on the turf in the $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (G3). 7-1 Buddy's Humor set a pace of 23.96, 48.53, and 1:11.65 while as many as 2 lengths in front of the rest of the field. Turning for home, 6-1 Twilight Meteor, who had stalked the pace in third the whole way, moved up to challenge for the lead. The pair dueled for the lead briefly, then Twilight Meteor pulled away in the final 1/16 to win by a length in 1:34.31 over the firm turf course. It was just a head back from Buddy's Humor to 17-1 Buffalo Man, while 4-1 favorite Just As Well failed to rally late finishing a disappointing seventh, but just 3 1/4 lengths behind the winner.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 9 Twilight Meteor Velazquez 5.00 3.20 2.20 11 Buddy' Humor Lezcano 8.80 3.80 4 Buffalo Man Coa 3.20 $2 Exacta 9-11 90.80 $1 Trifecta 9-11-4 1,014.50 $1 Superfecta 9-11-4-7 6,025.20 Winning Time: 1:24.15Results Chart
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We had to stop on him early last year with some minor aches and pains, but he's come back and trained very well this year. He ran very well in his first race back, but got a little tired going 1 1/8 miles, which is understandable coming off a (9 month) long layoff. He got a great trip today and was able to settle just off the pace. We'll look at going to Keeneland for the Maker's Mark."
Winning jockey John Velazquez, who swept both stakes races on the card, said, "I had the perfect trip today. I settled in nicely between the two speed horses and got a great ride. And when I asked he responded, not a problem. The difference today was that he was ready."
Photographs courtesy of EquiSportPhotos.com Z. Laskowski
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