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Forte (Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables) is slated to make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, seeking to build on his championship juvenile season.
The 2022 Eclipse Award 2-year-old champion is the 7-5 morning-line favorite for the 1 1/16-mile stakes for sophomores, which will headline a program with nine stakes, including eight graded stakes, worth $1.85 Million in purses.
First-race post time for the 14-race Fountain of Youth program is set for 11 a.m.
The Fountain of Youth, the dress rehearsal for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream, offers 100 qualifying points for this year's Kentucky Derby (G1), with 50 points going to the winner, 20 to the runner-up, 15 to the third-place finisher, 10 to the fourth-place finisher, and 5 to the fifth-place finisher.
Race 14 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 4 - Post 5:43 PM
|1||General Jim||6-1||Luis Saez
|Claude McGaughey III|
|2||Legacy Isle||20-1||Emisael Jaramillo
|3||Shadow Dragon||12-1||Jose Ortiz
|4||Forte||7-5||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|5||Il Miracolo||30-1||Edgar Perez
|6||Blazing Sevens||7-2||Joel Rosario
|8||Rocket Can||8-1||Junior Alvarado
|9||Cyclone Mischief||12-1||Tyler Gaffalione
|10||Dangerous Ride||30-1||Miguel Vasquez
Forte is scheduled to meet nine rivals in the 76th running of the Fountain of Youth while making his first start since clinching the 2-year-old title with a 1 ½-length victory over heavily favorite Cave Rock in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland.
"He seems to be thriving right now," said Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher before Forte drew the No. 4 post position Saturday afternoon. "I hope he can continue on that trajectory. We're super-pleased with the way he's coming into the race."
Forte won four of five starts during his championship juvenile season that was launched with a 7 ¾-length victory at Belmont Park last May. After finishing fourth in the six-furlong Sanford (G2), he rallied from off the pace to win the seven-furlong Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. He polished off a stellar campaign with a pair of off-the-pace scores around two turns in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
"Physically, he's done well. He's put on some weight. He's always been a leggy colt, so I wouldn't say he's grown height-wise, but he has filled out. He reminds me of his sire," said Pletcher, who trained Violence, a Grade 1 winner who finished second, a half-length behind Orb, in the 2013 Fountain of Youth (G2), the last career start. "He's a super intelligent colt, very easy to train, very straightforward. He's very willing when you want him to be.."
Having built a solid foundation while gaining extensive race experience during his juvenile season, Forte is scheduled for two starts leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
"That afforded us a little time for him to freshen up. With that type of seasoning, I'm very comfortable with two races leading up, hopefully, to the Derby," Pletcher said. "We've approached it from various angles and felt like this was the right path for him. So far everything has been going to plan. Hopefully, it continues to do that."
Pletcher has saddled three Fountain of Youth winners - Itsaknockout (2016), Eskendereya (2010) and Scat Daddy (2007), who went on to give his trainer one of his record six victories in the Florida Derby.
Irad Ortiz Jr., who was aboard for Forte's five races last season, has the return call for the Fountain of Youth.
Frank Fletcher Racing Operations Inc.'s Rocket Can (Post No. 8; 8-1) enters the Fountain of Youth off a gutsy half-length victory in the Feb. 4 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the son of Into Mischief raced considerably wide thorough the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull but kicked in through the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length under Junior Alvarado in his 2023 debut.
"The first race back down here wasn't that hard on him, and he seems to have recovered fairly well," Mott said. "A lot of times the first race will tire them out a little, but he seems to come back good, so hopefully he moves forward a little more."
Alvarado expressed admiration for Rocket Can's performance in the face of adversity.
"I was very pleased with that race. He won, and a lot of people say it was a slow number here and there. But if you actually pay attention to the race, I was probably seven, eight-wide on the first turn and then turning for home it was probably the same thing," Alvarado said. "I was four, five, six-wide, and for a baby going two turns and having to give up that much ground, it has to take a toll. I thought he was very game at the end. I'm pretty pleased with him."
Peachtree Stable's Shadow Dragon is also scheduled to represent the Mott stable in the Fountain of Youth after closing fast to finish second in the Holy Bull, just a half-length behind Rocket Can. A New York-bred son of Army Mule had previously won his debut and finished off-the-board against state-breds at Aqueduct last fall.
Jose Ortiz has retained the mount aboard Shadow Dragon.
Rodeo Creek Racing LLC's Blazing Sevens, who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after encountering trouble at the start, is scheduled to take on Forte again while making his 2023 debut in the Fountain of Youth. The Chad Brown-trained son of Good Magic captured the mile Champagne (G1) at Aqueduct prior to the Juvenile. Blazing Sevens won impressively at first asking at Saratoga before finishing 12 lengths behind Forte while finishing third in the Hopeful (G1).
Joel Rosario has the call on Blazing Sevens, who is rated second in the morning line at 7-2.
Courtlandt Farms' General Jim, who recovered from early bumping to capture the seven-furlong Claiborne Swale (G3) on the Holy Bull undercard, is scheduled to stretch out around two turns in the Fountain of Youth, for which he drew the No. 1 post position.
The son of Into Mischief, won twice and finished third in a stakes around two turn on turf in New York last year. General Jim, who lacked room while finishing fourth in his 3-year-old debut in the Jan. 1 Mucho Macho Man, raced with blinkers for the first time in the Swale.
Luis Saez has the return call on General Jim, who is rated third at 6-1.
Albaugh Family Stables LLC's Cyclone Mischief, the beaten Holy Bull favorite while coming off a stunning optional claiming allowance win at Gulfstream; Daniel Walters, Devin Smith, Anthony Smith and trainer Rohan Crichton's Legacy Isle,, whose three-race undefeated streak was snapped with a fourth-place finish in the Holy Bull; OGMA Investments LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH's Mage, an eye-catching debut winner for trainer Gustavo Delgado; Palm Beach Racing V LLC's Dangerous Ride, a multiple stakes-placed optional claiming allowance winner last time out; and Alex Andres LLC's Il Miracolo, who was out-of-the money in the Mucho Macho Man and Holy Bull, round out the field.
FEB 24 - Mage, a brilliant debut winner for trainer Gustavo Delgado, breezed five furlongs Friday at Gulfstream Park in preparation for a planned start in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) March 4.
The 3-year-old son of Good Magic was timed in 1:00.65 after working in company with O Captain, who is scheduled to run in the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) on the Fountain of Youth Day program that will offer nine stakes, including eight graded stakes, worth $1.85 million in purses.
Mage turned in an eye-catching performance at Gulfstream Jan. 28 while romping to a 3 ¾-length victory in a seven-furlong maiden special weight race.
Javier Castellano, who has the Fountain of Youth Mount on Mage, was aboard for Friday's breeze.
"O Captain was on the inside. Mage was on the outside. We broke at the five-eighths pole. I didn't want to work him too fast, but when I asked him, he took off," Castellano said. "He did it very easy. I like the way he did it today."
Delgado has made ambitious moves with promising colts in the past with good results. The Delgado-trained Majesto moved up from a maiden special weight score to finish second behind Nyquist in the 2016 Florida Derby (G1) with Castellano aboard in his next start.
"I'm grateful to Gustavo Delgado for the opportunity to ride this horse. We've had a lot of success together in the past," Castellano said. "I think Mage is a very nice horse. He's a very straightforward horse."
O Captain, who finished third in last year's Fountain of Youth (G2), was timed in 1:00.75 for the Gulfstream Park Mile, for which he will come off a nine-month layoff.
Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric's Simplification, who captured last year's Fountain of Youth, also worked at Gulfstream Friday in preparation for a start in the Gulfstream Park Mile.
The Antonio Sano-trained 4-year-old son of Not This Time breezed five furlongs under Jose Ortiz in 1:02.89.
Simplification is winless since his Fountain of Youth score, which he followed up with a third-place finish in the Florida Derby and a sharp fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1), in which he closed from 15th with a seven-wide move into the stretch.
Forte (Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables), who was honored with the 2022 Eclipse Award following a 2-year-old championship season that culminated with a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), heads a list of 32 nominations for the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) March 4 at Gulfstream Park.
The 77th running of the Fountain of Youth, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds, will headline a program with nine stakes, including eight graded stakes, worth $1.85 Million in purses.
Forte also leads a list of eight 3-year-olds nominated by Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher to the tradition-rich dress rehearsal for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1), the premier Triple Crown prep scheduled for Saturday, April 1.
Forte has been preparing for a seasonal debut in the Fountain of Youth at Pletcher's winter training base at Palm Beach Downs.
The son of Violence has won four of five starts. The Kentucky-bred colt finished fourth in the Sanford (G3) at Saratoga after capturing his debut by 7 3/4 lengths at Belmont Park but finished off his championship season with victories in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.
Pletcher, who has saddled three Fountain of Youth winners (Itsaknockout in 2015; Eskendereyer in 2010; Scat Daddy in 2007), is also represented on the Fountain of Youth nominations list by Whisper Hill Farm's Classic Catch, Three Diamonds Farm's Dude N Colorado, Spendthrift Farm LLC's Kingsbarns and Major Dude, Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Point Proven, Robert LaPenta's Shesterkin, and Whisper Hill Farm LLC and Gainesway Stable's Tapit Trice.
Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc.'s Rocket Can, who captured the Feb. 4 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park, is one of three horses nominated to the Fountain of Youth by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The son of Into Mischief rallied from off the pace to take the lead in the stretch before holding off Peachtree Stable's Shadow Dragon by three-quarters of a length. Shadow Dragon, a New York-bred son of Army Mule, and Karl Glassman and Cathi Glassman's Arthur's Ride, an impressive maiden winner at Gulfstream Feb. 11, also represent Mott on the Fountain of Youth noms list.
Rodeo Creek Racing LLC's Blazing Sevens, who captured the Champagne (G1) at Belmont, is also nominated to the Fountain of Youth. The Chad Brown-trained son of Good Magic, who won his debut at Saratoga by 6 ¼ lengths, finished a distant third behind Forte in the Hopeful before capturing the Champagne and finishing a troubled fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Courtlandt Farms' General Jim, who captured the seven-furlong Claiborne Swale (G3) at Gulfstream on the Holy Bull undercard, is among the most prominent Fountain of Youth nominees. A two-time winner on turf last season for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, the son of Into Mischief finished a troubled fourth in the Jan. 1 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream prior to his rallying victory in the Swale.
Karl Watson, Michael Pegram and Paul Weitman's Hard to Figure, who lost a photo finish while finishing second in the Robert Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert; and Gentry Farms' West Coast Cowboy, a Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained son of West Coast who finished third in the Holy Bull, are also prominent on the Fountain of Youth nominations list.
The Fountain of Youth will be supported on the March 4 card by the $200,000 WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile (G2), $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2), $200,000 Mac Diarmida, $200,000 Herecomesthebride, $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3), $150,000 The Very One (G3), $150,000 Honey Fox (G3), and the $200,000 Colonel Liam (formerly the Palm Beach).
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