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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Discreet Dancer's Challenges in Fountain of Youth


By Dick Downey
The Dowey Profile

The Grade II Fountain of Youth could come down to whether one of the three top-rated horses reacts well to a touch of the whip.

Discreet Dancer has been behind a horse at only one call during his two-race career. His first challenge in the Fountain of Youth will be to respond kindly to early pressure. The second challenge, which dovetails with the first, is whether he and John Velazquez can dictate the pace or rate off of it. And the third will be whether he can hold off Algorithms and Union Rags.

We give a tip of the hat to Javier Castellano for leading the Gulfstream Park jockey standings while at the same time noticing that John Velazquez has a higher win percentage. That Velazquez has been subordinated to a mount on something as outstanding as Discreet Dancer could turn out to give him the upper hand -- if the challenges can be met.

Algorithms doesn't really look like a bounce candidate. His last-race speed figure isn't a dramatic escalation from previous form. He could carry that form forward in the Fountain of Youth. He and Union Rags do, however, have a luxury that Discreet Dancer lacks, and that is a measure of graded earnings -- $240,000 and $830,000 respectively.

A couple of things should not escape notice. One, aside from the better value Discreet Dancer offers, he finished both his career races while being ridden out. Two, in his most recent race, his final quarter-mile amd half-mile times were faster than those of Algorithms in the Grade III Holy Bull. Both races were run at a mile.

Union Rags, all 17 hands of him, will hang back and make one late run. He will obviously need to improve on his profesionalism in the stretch if things are tight at the end, but common sense tells me that this race is a prep for a prep, with the most serious running to come later.

Casual Trick popped from an 82 Brisnet in his November race at Churchill Downs to a 98 in the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1. He then ran a career-low 75 in his Jan. 29 allowance race. But he was so out of it that he was beaten 30 lengths, and you know he could have done better than that. The latter two races were at this Fountain of Youth distance of 1 1/16 mile. I can't imagine he won't improve off his last race, but I think a horse that can't or won't pass Reveron won't win this race.

Neck 'n Neck is interesting for the simple fact that he ran within 5 1/2 lengths of Discreet Dancer on Jan. 29, and his subsequent effort in the Sam Davis at Tampa wasn't all that bad. He breaks from post 1 and may be reserved for a late run. But as observed here before the Holy Bull, you don't want to get too far back on this track -- not at this meet.

Fort Loudon is a nice horse, but as stated before his fourth-place finish in the Holy Bull, it's hard to see him moving up a lot. He did run a career-best 97 Brisnet in the Holy Bull, but he stayed back of the pace, saved ground and still lost a length to Algorithms in the late going.

News Pending goes turf-to-turf-to-dirt, but he'll have to take a sharp step up to get the best of this group. Nevertheless, it's noteworthy that he was a close second to Exothermic last time out -- and that he set the pace when he almost broke his on the dirt at Belmont Park.

Csaba and News Pending worry me a little bit for fear they'll soften up Discreet Dancer during the first six furlongs. That is where John Velazquez needs to earn his money -- helping Discreet Dancer meet challenges one and two. From then on, the third challenge is up to Discreet Dancer and his blood.

Todd Pletcher has publicly stated that Disreet Dancer is calm and has a good mind, so this first trip around two turns could be a winning one even though we don't really know how he'll respond if the whip -- if it's needed.



If it comes in, the Pletcher exacta won't pay very well, but it would pay even less if Union Rags weren't in the race.

The chance of rain over the weekend is very low.

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