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Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby Horses at The Downey Profile®

Dick's Picks: What Gets FOY Top Billing Saturday?

2/20/2014

By Dick Downey
@DowneyProfile


The Fountain of Youth Stakes is comprised almost entirely of early-pace and stalking types, with a couple of closers looking to narrow the gap late. Let's try to sort them out.

The top three finishers from the Holy Bull Stakes are absent, Cairo Prince and Conquest Titan sitting out the race and Intense Holiday going to the Risen Star Stakes.

Out in post 8 is Almost Famous, fourth in the Holy Bull and drawn widest of the early pacesetting types. One would think Almost Famous is due to improve from the Holy Bull, when he and Coup de Grace contested the early lead. Almost Famous faded to fourth, and Coup de Grace faded clear off the Derby Trail, at least for now. However, I have some concern about his absence from the worktab since Feb. 8.

Like he did in the Holy Bull, Almost Famous look to his inside to see whether anything goes with him, and this time there is reason to believe he could be uncontested early.

Wildcat Red, a son of top sprinter D'Wildcat,  has shown good early speed before. He breaks from post 4 but is likely to sit off the pace much like he did in the Hutcheson Stakes. General a Rod, next door in post 5, will be either pressing or stalking, and could engage Almost Famous sooner rather than later. Casiguapo, in post 6, has shown early speed as well but looks more likely to stalk and, if recent form holds, fade. As for Almost Famous, if Calvin Borel can dictate a moderate pace, his chances improve.

In terms of their times late in races, the best horses in the field are the presumptive favorites: Commissioner in post 1 and Top Billing in post 12.

Of those two, I have to lean toward Commissioner. He has tactical speed and should be able to save ground, stay in good position under John Velasquez, and close the deal in the stretch. Top Billing has the misfortune of starting near the outside of the 13-horse field, and as we all know, the short run into the first turn can be a daunting task from there. Since Top Billing's style is to come from well off the pace, Joel Rosario will guide him over toward the rail after the break, unavoidably losing ground in the process.

If Top Billing is able to overcome this post, and especially if he does it from behind a moderate pace, he certainly deserves to be one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby at this early stage. Of course, he is considered just that on many lists today.

For many of these horses, entry in the Fountain of Youth appears to be a legitimate exercise in seeing whether they fit at this level.

We Miss Artie has had one dirt race around two turns, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and he stalked the early pace.. He had a tough trip, bobbling at the start and having to wait a bit later, but still, he came home in a slow time that doesn't bode well. He is a grade I winner on synthetic track, much to his credit, but his rider in last two races, Javier Castellano, has chosen Wildcat Red instead.

Medal Count's run in the Juvenile was a disaster, but he's showing some good works at Gulfstream Park, and his trainer has said publicly on multiple occasions, starting back in November, that the colt has all the goods. Considering everything, I am going with that and putting hiim in the top four.

C. Zee makes his two-turn debut on Saturday. While he's garnered some consistently good speed figures while sprinting, who knows how he'll fare when stretching out?

Best Plan Yet is a very interesting case. He significantly improved from a horrible result the Gulfstream Park Derby to a fifth-place finish in the Holy Bull. He was timed in 1:43 and change in the latter race, often good enough to win a stake at the 1 1/16-mile distance. If I leave him out of my picks, it's not because I want to.

Our Caravan is the other horse that has shown an ability to close, but he is very inexperienced compared to most of these and has not shown consistency yet.

Hesinfront is ambitiously placed after running fourth to Top Billing in a Jan. 25 allowance race. Surfing U S A and We're All Set, second and third in that race, are bypassing out the Fountain of Youth. Maybe Hesinfront is a quickly-improving type. He'a had two sharp five-furlong workouts in preparation for Saturday. On the downside, he must break from post 11.

East Hall drew furthest outside and has a lot to overcome. It won't be for lack of experience, though. The Fountain of Youth will be his 11th career start.

DICK'S PICKS:

1. COMMISSIONER
2. TOP BILLING
3. GENERAL A ROD
4. MEDAL COUNT

Our Profiles of Every Entry in the Fountain of Youth Stakes
Almost Famous, Best Plan Yet, C. Zee, Casiguapo, Commissioner, East Hall, General a Rod, Hesinfront, Medal Count, Our Caravan, Top Billing, We Miss Artie, Wildcat Red

Saturday, R11
Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes
Gulfstream Park
$400,000
1 1/16 Mile
Dirt
Post Time: 5:33 ET

Post   Horse  ML  Jockey Sx  Wt Trainer
1 Commissioner (KY) 3-1 J. Velazquez C 116 T. Pletcher
2 We MIss Artie (ON) 8-1 J. Bravo C 122 T. Pletcher
3 Medal Count (KY) 15-1 J. Rocco Jr. C 116 D. Romans
4 Wildcat Red (FL) 6-1 L. Saez C 120 J. Garoffalo
5 General a Rod (KY) 5-1 J. Castellano C 120 M. Maker
6 Casiguapo (KY) SCR J. Lezcano C 116 M. Morales
7 C. Zee (FL) 12-1 E. Zayas C 116 S. Gold
8 Almost Famous (KY) 10-1 C. Borel C 116 P. Byrne
9 Best Plan Yet (FL) 20-1 P. Lopez C 120 S. Gold
10 Our Caravan (KY) 30-1 C. Lanerie C 116 M. Dilger
11 Hesinfront (KY) 20-1 A. Jaen C 116 D. Romans
12 Top Billing (KY) 7-2 J. Rosario C 116 C. McGaughey III
13 East Hall (FL) 20-1 J. Lewis G 116 W. Kaplan

All will run with Lasix.

Equipment Changes: 6 - Casiguapo - Blinkers off

Owners: 1 - WinStar Farm, LLC ; 2 - Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey ; 3 - Spendthrift Farm, LLC ; 4 - Honors Stable Corp. ; 5 - J. Armando Rodriguez ; 6 - All American Horses ; 7 - Jacks or Better Farm, Inc. ; 8 - Charles and Maribeth Sandford LLC ; 9 - Jacks or Better Farm, Inc. ; 10 - Anstu Stables, Inc. ; 11 - Frank L. Jones, Jr. ; 12 - W. S. Farish and E.J. Hudson, Jr. ; 13 - H. Jack Hendricks and Roger Justice

Breeders: 1 - WinStar Farm, LLC; 2 - Richard L. Lister; 3 - Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC; 4 - Moreau Bloodstock International, Inc. &Winter Racing Enterprise, I; 5 - Hare Forest Farm; 6 - University of Kentucky; 7 - Jacks or Better Farm Inc.; 8 - Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC; 9 - Jacks or Better Farm Inc.; 10 - Hare Forest Farm, LTD.; 11 - Frank Jones; 12 - W. S. Farish & E. J. Hudson, Jr.Irrevocable Trust; 13 - Mary K. Haire


 

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