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2003 Kentucky Derby Preps
Hutcheson, Fountain of Youth, and Risen Star Stakes

This weekend kicked off the start of the major prep races for the Kentucky Derby with three graded stakes. Several highly regarded but mostly untested sophomores were making their jump to graded competition and a lot of questions needed to be answered. After all the races were over, some had proven their metal but there were a few wrecks alongside the road to the Kentucky Derby.

Lion Tamer
On Saturday, Gulfstream Park hosted two preps. First up was the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes, run over 7 furlongs for a $150,000 guaranteed purse. The 6-5 favorite Lion Tamer did not disappoint his backers nor his new owner Michael Tabor. As he had done in his previous two starts, he broke slow, was rushed up to stalk the pace set by 9-1 shot Crafty Guy, and then powered by the competition at the top of the stretch. He drew off to win by 6 widening lengths in a time of 1:22.60 over a fast track. Trainer Todd Pletcher said of the effort, "He had annihilated maidens and [allowance horses] but today he annihilated a good group of graded stakes horses. I had a couple of people come up to me and say this race is tougher than the Fountain of Youth on paper. Maybe it was." 10-1 longest shot Strength Within came from well off the pace to finish second, while pacesetter Crafty Guy finished third. Highly regarded second choice Scrimshaw disappointed in fourth.   Chart

Trust N Luck
The second prep at Gulfstream was the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth, a 1 1/16 mile event for $200,000. Locally bred and raced Trust N Luck captured the event in gate-to-wire fashion in 1:43.33 as the 5-1 fourth choice in the field of eight. Outgunning Midway Cat to the first turn, he kept the field at least 1 1/2 lengths behind for the trip down the backstretch, then turning for home accelerated away to win by 5 1/4lengths over 34-1 longest shot Supah Blitz with Midway Cat in third. 5-2 favorite Ten Cents A Shine was never a factor, finishing well back in sixth. Winning trainer Ralph Ziadie said, "I think if all goes well we'll go into the Kentucky Derby after the Florida Derby. I have just an old saying that I don't want to dance every dance. I want a fresh horse going into the Kentucky Derby. I would never go unless I had a horse who had a chance."   Chart

Badge of Silver
On Sunday the action shifted to the Fair Grounds for the Grade 3, $150,000 Risen Star Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. A large field of twelve faced the starter, including 2.30-1 favorite Indy Dancer, one of three horses going into this race undefeated. However, it was the 3-1 second choice Badge of Silver who was able to come out of the race still undefeated. Stalking the early pace of 7-2 third choice Saintly Look for the first half mile, he took command of the lead on the far turn. Jockey Robby Albarado roused him at the top of the lane and he drew off to a ten length win in 1:42.99, just missing the stakes record. 9-1 fifth choice Lone Star Sky was in contention most of the way and got up for second, with 16-1 longshot Defrere's Vixen third. Favored Indy Dancer got off to a slow start, was wide early, and never a factor finishing seventh. Winning trainer Ronny Werner said, "I saw him make the lead and his ears pricked forward just like that. It was picture perfect. We could visualize that race, but it really happened." The top two finishers are pointed at the March 9th Louisiana Derby.   Chart

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