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The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues with the 2020 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The first four home earn points on a 50-20-10-5 basis, and the 50 points earned by the winner should ensure they get a start in the Kentucky Derby.
Dennis' Moment's four-race career has been marked by equal measures of bountiful talent and dreadful luck.
When Albaugh Family Stables LLC's 3-year-old son of Tiznow has had the opportunity to give it his all, he has been nothing short of brilliant. A pair of eye-catching back-to-back victories, unfortunately, have been sandwiched in between two frightful starts.
Trainer Dale Romans is hoping Dennis' Moment will have the chance to strut his stuff in Saturday's $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park and establish himself as a leading prospect for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28, as well as the 2020 Triple Crown. First-race post time for the 14-race card is set for 11:30 a.m.
The Fountain of Youth will headline a program with 10 stakes, nine graded, worth $1.95 million Saturday, when the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2), the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) and the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) will also be featured.
Race 14 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, February 29 - Post 6:04 PM
|1||Candy Tycoon||15-1||Manny Franco
|4||The Falcon||50-1||Marcos Meneses
|5||Dennis' Moment||2-1||Flavien Prat
|6||As Seen On Tv||9-2||Paco Lopez
|7||Country Grammer||15-1||Javier Castellano
|8||Gear Jockey||20-1||Julien Leparoux
|9||Liam's Lucky Charm||15-1||Edgard Zayas
|11||Ete Indien||8-1||Florent Geroux
|12||Chance It||7-2||Tyler Gaffalione
|Saffie Joseph Jr.|
On the strength of the two dominating victories on his resume, Dennis' Moment has been installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite among 12 3-year-olds entered Wednesday in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth.
"I'm feeling a lot of pressure. I'm not usually in this situation where I feel a pressure. I usually like being the underdog because there's not much pressure," said Romans, whose trainee drew Post No. 5. "With this horse, there's so much hype with him - well deserved, he's very talented. I put the pressure on myself because of what I think of him. I think he's ready to roll."
Dennis' Moment hasn't run since finishing off the board in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 1, when he lost all chance while stumbling badly and going to his knees following the start.
The Kentucky-bred colt, who was purchased for $400,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, was the recipient of bad luck in his debut at Churchill Downs in June when he lost his rider after clipping heels shortly after the start. He broke his maiden in spectacular fashion in his second career start July 27 at Ellis Park, scoring a 19 ¼-length triumph after running seven furlongs in 1:21.95. The Kentucky-bred colt came right back to win the Sept. 14 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs by 1 ¾ lengths in his first start around two turns.
Romans hasn't been shy about revealing his high expectation for Dennis' Moment.
"All horses are different. Kitten's Joy has always been my gold standard. He's the best horse I ever had. This horse is good, right there with him," Romans said. "There have been a lot of good ones. Not this Time was a good 2-year-old. I think this horse is right with him. He's done everything right."
Dennis' Moment hasn't had the chance to fully compete in the race since September, which has given him five and a half months to grow up.
"He's been so cool from Day 1. I almost don't want him to change. He's been so perfect about everything he does," Romans said. "He's such a neat horse to be around."
Flavien Prat is scheduled to ride Dennis' Moment for the first time Saturday.
The Fountain of Youth offers 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (G1), virtually guaranteeing the winner a spot in the 20-horse field for the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Shooting Star Thoroughbreds' Chance It, rated second at 7-2 after drawing Post No. 12, will enter the Fountain of Youth, having already won his 3-year-old debut. The Florida-bred colt, who hasn't been worse than second in six career starts, fought back in deep stretch to capture the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Jan. 4.
"That showed he had a lot of guts that day. I thought he was beat 100 percent, especially coming off the layoff. I didn't expect him to find a little bit more because I knew he was coming off four months," trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. "We could only have him so fit. A race does so much more than training. He found a way. He only got in front at the wire, and he still galloped out big."
The Mucho Macho Man, which was contested at a mile around one turn, was Chance It's first race since capturing the $400,000 In Reality, the 1 1/16-mile final of the 2019 Florida Sire Stakes series, by 7 ¼ lengths.
"He always looked like he'd stretch out. I know it was against lesser competition than he'll face Saturday, but to see him do it that day, I thought it was his most visually impressive race," Joseph said. "It gives us a lot of confidence that he'll stay the mile and a sixteenth, strongly."
Tyler Gaffalione, who rode Chance in both the In Reality and Mucho Macho Man, has the return mount Saturday.
Ete Indien enters the Fountain of Youth off a solid second-place finish behind Grade 1 winner Tiz the Law in the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Feb. 1. The gelded son of Summer Front set a pressure pace into the stretch before succumbing to Tiz the Law but continuing on gamely to finish 11 ½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Toledo.
"Tiz the Law was the best horse that day. We ran a big race and left the rest of the field far behind," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "If he can't do better than that, I don't think he has a chance on Saturday, but I think he has improved enough."
Ete Indien, who his owned by Biancone Racing LLC, Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Breeze With Me Stable Inc., Horse France America and D P Racing LLC, debuted in September with a late-running victory in a five-furlong turf race at Gulfstream. After finishing off the board in the Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland, he made an auspicious dirt debut in a one-turn mile optional claiming allowance Dec. 20, producing a front-running 2 ½-length victory over heavily favored Toledo on the main track.
"We are in America. Dirt is the tradition this time of year. There are no good turf races anyway until July. We tried him [on dirt] and he won brilliantly but was a bit green. He was much better the second time," Biancone said. "He's a big baby. He's a very talented big horse who needs to learn and improve."
Jockey Florent Geroux will fill in for injured Luca Panici Saturday.
Shotski will enter the Fountain of Youth with proven Grade 2 success around two turns, having captured the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 7. The son of Blame, who is owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Howling Pigeon Farms LLC, led throughout the 1 1/8-mile Remsen.
In his Feb. 13 return to action at Aqueduct, Shotski set a pressure pace before faltering in the stretch to finish second in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct, 3 ¼ lengths behind Max Player.
"It'll be nice to get him away from the Aqueduct course - it's pretty deep - and see if he can compete with the big boys on a faster surface, which I think he will," trainer Jeremiah O'Dwyer said.
Although Shotski has set the pace in his two most recent starts, O'Dwyer doesn't envision the Kentucky-bred colt to be the pacesetter Saturday.
"I'd like to see him sit third or fourth. I believe there will be a lot more speed in the race. He can do it all. We've breezed him in behind horses to prepare for that," O'Dwyer said. "I'd like to see him get a tow into the race and sit third or fourth behind the speed in the ideal world."
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Shotski for the first time Saturday, subbing for Luis Saez, who is scheduled to ride 2019 Florida Derby winner Maximum Security in Saturday's Saudi Cup.
Screen Door Stables LLC's As Seen On Tv, who finished a head behind Chance It after holding the lead late in the Mucho Macho Man, is set for a return in the Fountain of Youth. The Kelly Breen-trained son of Lookin At Lucky, who has finished no worse than second in four starts, had previously captured the 6 ½-furlong Juvenile Sprint for Florida- breds at Gulfstream Park West.
Paco Lopez has the return mount Saturday.
Stonehedge Farm LLC's Liam's Lucky Charm will try to rebound from a 10th-place finish in the Feb. 15 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds Saturday. The Ralph Nicks-trained son of Khozan, who broke through the gate prior to the start of the Risen Star, had previously won the Pasco by 5 ½ lengths in the seven-furlong Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs.
Liam's Lucky Charm defeated Chance It in the $200,000 Florida Sire Stakes Affirmed at seven furlongs before finishing a well-beaten third behind Chance It in the 1 1/16-mile FSS In Reality.
Edgard Zayas has the call aboard the homebred Liam's Lucky Charm.
Mathis Stable LLC's Candy Tycoon, who broke through with a maiden victory on the undercard of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 25, is slated to make a return to action in the Fountain of Youth. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of Twirling Candy scored by four lengths at the 1 1/16-mile distance to graduate in his fifth career start.
Paul Pompa Jr.'s Country Grammer is also slated to make the leap from maiden company to Grade 2 Company in the Fountain of Youth. The Chad Brown-trained son of Tonalist is coming off a 3 ¼-length victory at 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct Nov. 11.
Gelfenstein Farm's Masterday, a debut winner who recently finished second behind Ny Traffic in an optional claiming allowance, has been entered in the Fountain of Youth. Trainer Gilberto Zerpa gave the call to Cristian Torres.
Calumet Farm's Gear Jockey, who finished third on turf in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Bourbon; and Ron Paolucci Racing LLC and Ashley Quartarolo's The Falcon, who has been in the money in two career starts; are both scheduled for seek to break their respective maidens in the Fountain of Youth.
Julien Leparoux has the mount on Rusty Arnold-trained Gear Jockey, while Marcos Meneses is slated to ride Bob Hess Jr.-trained The Falcon.
Owner/trainer Danny Daniel Hurtak's Makabim, unplaced in a starter stakes last time out, rounds out the field. Junior Alvarado has the call.
FEB 24 - Shooting Star Thoroughbreds LLC's Chance It breezed three furlongs in 34.68 seconds Monday morning, cruising over the Gulfstream Park racetrack under Tyler Gaffalione in preparation for a planned start in Saturday's $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2).
The workout, the fastest of nine recorded at the distance, was the son of Currency Swap's fifth since winning his 3-year-old debut in the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park.
"He did it the right way. He moved well. We were plenty fit, so today was to make sure he was in good form. All's good. I thought he did everything he was asked today," Joseph said. "As far as fitness goes, he's spot-on fit. We just need to have a good week. Hopefully, everything goes to plan for the rest of the week, and we should go over there with a good chance."
Chance It is expected to clash with Dennis' Moment, Shotski, As Seen On Tv, Ete Indien, Green Light Go and Gear Jockey, in a field that will be drawn live following Wednesday's first race and shown during Gulfstream's broadcast. First race post Saturday is 11:30 a.m.
Chance It was the hero of the 2019 Florida Sire Stakes series, in which he won the $100,000 Dr. Fager and the $400,000 In Reality, which was run over the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth distance. The Florida-bred colt made an impressive 3-year-old debut in the Mucho Macho Man, in which he rated off the pace before taking the lead in the stretch and fighting back to win by a head over As Seen On Tv.
FEB 23 - Albaugh Family Stables LLC's Dennis' Moment breezed a half-mile Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park in preparation for a highly anticipated 2020 debut in Saturday's $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2).
The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, a prep for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream March 28, will headline a program with nine graded stakes, including the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2), $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) and the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2).
The Dale Romans-trained Dennis' Moment was timed by Daily Racing Form's clocker in 48.02 seconds after covering four furlongs under Tammy Fox.
"I thought it went perfect. It was just what we were looking for from his last work," Romans said. "I told Tammy, `Just break him off at the half-mile pole and just sit on him and don't do a thing.' He got 47-and-a-couple, galloped out strong and looked good to me."
Flavien Prat is scheduled to ride the son of Tiznow for the first time in the Fountain of Youth.
Dennis' Moment hasn't run since finishing off the board in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 1, when he lost all chance while stumbling badly and going to his knees following the start.
The Kentucky-bred colt, who was purchased for $400,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, was the recipient of bad luck in his debut at Churchill Downs in June when he lost his rider after clipping heels shortly after the start. He broke his maiden in spectacular fashion in his second career start July 27 at Ellis Park, scoring a 19 1/4-length triumph after running seven furlongs in 1:21.95. The Kentucky-bred colt came right back to win the Sept. 14 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs by 1 3/4 lengths in his first start around two turns.
FEB 17 - Dennis' Moment (Albaugh Family Stables LLC) and Chance It (Shooting Star Thoroughbreds LLC) are prominent on the list of nominations for the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park Saturday, Feb. 29.
The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth Stakes, a key prep for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28, will highlight a program featuring eight other graded stakes, including the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2), $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) and $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2).
Trained by Dale Romans, Dennis' Moment rebounded from an eventful debut, in which he clipped heels and unseated his jockey, with a spectacular 19 ¼-length victory at Ellis Park last July. He came right back to capture the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs in September. Favored at 4-5 for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 1, Dennis' Moment stumbled badly at the start and was never a factor.
The Romans-trained Attachment Rate, a dominating 6 ¼-length maiden winner at Gulfstream for owners Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister has also been nominated to the Fountain of Youth.
Chance It, who made a victorious 3-year-old debut in the Jan. 4 Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream, is also on the list of high-profile nominees. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained colt, who battled back in deep stretch to win the one-turn mile Mucho Macho Man, was the hero of the 2019 Florida Sire Stakes Series, in which he won the $400,000 In Reality at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Fountain of Youth.
Jeff Drown and Don Rachel's Structor, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner, is also on the list of nominees for the 74th running of the Fountain of Youth. Trained by Chad Brown, Structor was undefeated in three starts last year, following up a debut victory at Saratoga and a triumph in the Pilgrim (G3) at Belmont with a fast-closing win in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita Nov. 1. The son of Palace Malice, who has not run on dirt, closed from 11th on the turn into the homestretch to score by three-quarters of a length in the Juvenile Turf.
Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Howling Pigeon Farms LLC's Shotski, who captured the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct in his 2019 finale, was nominated by trainer Jeremiah O'Dwyer. The son of Blame set the pace before finishing second in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct in his 3-year-old debut Feb. 1.
Colts Neck Stables LLC's Big City Bob is a Fountain of Youth nominee who finished third behind victorious Tiz the Law in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont after capturing the Sapling at Monmouth Park. The son of Shanghai Bobby is trained by Jorge Duarte Jr.
Trainer Patrick Biancone is represented by Sole Volante and Ete Indien on the list of nominations. Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp., Sole Volante captured the Feb. 8 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs after finishing third in the Mucho Macho Man. Linda Shanahan and partners' Ete Indien set the pace in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream before finishing second behind Tiz the Law.
Screen Door Stables LLC's As Seen On Tv, who finished a head behind Chance It in the Mucho Macho Man, is also nominated to the Fountain of Youth. The Kelly Breen-trained son of Lookin At Lucky captured the Juvenile Sprint for Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park in his previous start.
A trio of Todd Pletcher-trained recent maiden winners, Palm Springs, Candy Tycoon and Texas Swing are on the list of Fountain of Youth nominees.
FEB 13 - Grade 2-winning 3-year-old Shotski (Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Howling Pigeon Farms), second in his sophomore debut earlier this month, may take his next steps on the Triple Crown trail in South Florida.
Trainer Jerry O'Dwyer, based at Laurel Park in Maryland, said the connections are taking a look at the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) Saturday, Feb. 29 at Gulfstream Park for Shotski's next start.
"For now we're still on the [Triple Crown] trail, trying to get points and see where we go," O'Dwyer said. "I'll have to discuss it with the owners, but [for] the next step we might go down for the Fountain of Youth. He's bright-eyed here in his stall. I gave him two days off after the [last] race and brought him back to the track. He's been a handful just walking around the shedrow, just feeling good."
A bay son of Blame out of the Bluegrass Cat mare She Cat, his sire and grandsire both Grade 1-winning millionaires, Shotski was a front-running half-length winner of the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) in his juvenile finale Dec. 7. He returned to Aqueduct for to launch his 3-year-old campaign in the Feb. 1 Withers (G3), also at nine furlongs, where he led from the gate into deep stretch before yielding late and finishing 3 ¼ lengths behind winner Max Player.
"I was very happy. Obviously in the moment you're disappointed you didn't win, but looking back at it I wasn't disappointed in him at all," O'Dwyer said. "He went out there on the front end and hadn't run in like seven weeks, and they pressured him the whole way. He never really got a breather or an easy time like the last time when he won the Remsen.
"I thought we were going to be able to sit in behind this time, which I would have liked to have seen, but when he got out there he was off a little bit tardy and [jockey] Luis [Saez] just wanted to push him forward into a prominent position," he added. "He kind of just locked on for a few strides going into that first bend. Luis said he opted to just let him go on up there instead of trying to choke him down and take him back. Every time a horse came to him, he fought on and put every one of them away. I'm very proud of him. We have not lost any faith in the horse at all."
O'Dwyer said course layout is a factor in determining Shotski's next start. The Fountain of Youth is run at 1 1/16 miles, while New York's next points race for 3-year-olds is the one-mile Gotham (G3) March 7.
"We have him going two turns now. The Fountain of Youth is two turns, so that's kind of swaying us to go down and keep him going two turns instead of dropping back to a one-turn mile in the Gotham," O'Dwyer said. "I do think I'd like to get him off the Aqueduct surface right now, because it's very testing and tiring and I don't want to bottom him. It's going to be a long year ahead."
The Fountain of Youth is Gulfstream's final prep for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), contested at 1 1/8 miles Saturday, March 28.
FEB 10 - Chance It (Shooting Star Thoroughbreds LLC) breezed five furlongs Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park, where the 3-year-old son of Currency Swap is slated to run in the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) on Saturday, February 29.
The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Chance It worked in company with stakes-winner Captain D. and was timed in 59.74 seconds for his third workout since capturing the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream January 29. The clocking was the third fastest of 43 recorded at the distance.
"It was a good work. I'm happy with where we're at," Joseph said. "He'll have two more works and we should be ready to go in the Fountain of Youth.Chance It, the hero of the 2019 Florida Sire Stakes series, made an impressive 3-year-old debut in the Mucho Macho Man, in which he rated off the pace before taking the lead in the stretch and fighting back to win by a head after being headed by As Seen On Tv in deep stretch.
Sole Volante, who finished third, went on to win the $200,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Saturday. Smash Factor, who defeated Chance It in their respective debuts in June but finished far back in the Mucho Macho Man, won a stakes-quality allowance at Gulfstream last week.
"The true test for any race comes in four or five weeks when you see how the form works out. Smash Factor came back to win and Sol Volante won [Saturday] at Tampa. To beat those horses off a layoff was impressive," Joseph said.
Chance It bounced back from his second-place finish in his June debut to turn in a brilliant 9 1/4-length triumph at Gulfstream. He came right back to capture the $100,000 FSS Dr. Fager before finishing second in the $200,000 FSS Affirmed and winning the $400,000 FSS In Reality by 7 1/4 lengths to close out a highly productive 2-year-old campaign. The In Reality was contested at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Fountain of Youth.
FEB 10 - Dennis' Moment (Albaugh Family Stables LLC) breezed five furlongs in 1:00.22 at Gulfstream Park Saturday in preparation for a planned 2020 debut in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) Feb. 29.
The 3-year-old son of Tiznow produced the fourth fastest of 35 workouts recorded at the distance while breezing for the fifth time since arriving at Gulfstream Park.
"Everything went well, exactly what we were looking for," trainer Dale Romans said. "He hasn't missed a beat. His progression has been great."
Dennis' Moment, who ranks among the most highly regarded Triple Crown prospects, broke his maiden in spectacular fashion in his second career start July 27 at Ellis Park, scoring a 19 ¼-length triumph after running seven furlongs in 1:21.95. The Kentucky-bred colt came right back to win the Sept. 14 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs by 1 ¾ lengths in his first start around two turns.
"He's just a good horse. He's only going to improve," Romans said.
Dennis' Moment, who lost his rider after clipping heels shortly after the start of his debut at Churchill Downs last June, lost all chance in the Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita when he stumbled badly at the start to close out his 2019 campaign.
Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister's Mr. Freeze, who finished second in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Runhappy Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park, returned to the worktab Saturday with a five-furlong leg-stretching breeze in 1:04.17.
"We haven't decided where we're going with him yet," Romans said.
The Fountain of Youth is a race for sophomores on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. It has been contested at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park in South Florida each February since 1945. The race is named for the mythical spring that gave eternal youth to whomever drank from it. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon searched unsuccessfully for the spring throughout Florida.
Famous horses to have won the race include Tim Tam, Kauai King, Spectacular Bid, Bet Twice, Forty Niner, Fly So Free, Thunder Gulch, Pulpit, Quality Road and recent Classic winners Union Rags and Orb.
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