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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Thirteen to Go to Post in Fountain of Youth

2/17/2014

Saturday's Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes has attracted a field of 13 led by allowance winners Commissioner and Top Billing, who meet once again.

Shug McGaughey will saddle Top Billing, while Todd Pletcher has both Commissioner and Dixiana Breeders' Futurity winner We Miss Artie, who races for the second time this year.

"Both horses breezed really well (on Sunday), and I think we're ready to go," Pletcher said. "Hopefully, we can turn the tables this year."

A WinStar Farm homebred, Commissioner earned his diploma in his second start going nine furlongs at Saratoga on Aug. 28. The son of A.P. Indy didn't race again until the new year, but the lengthy layoff proved no impediment when he prevailed over Top Billing and others in what Pletcher termed "a stakes-quality allowance race" on Jan. 3.

“After he broke his maiden, Elliott (Walden) and I looked at the schedule and said there’s basically nowhere to run a horse like this around two turns until the Remsen, so we made a decision at that point to give him a little break," Pletcher explained. "We sent him back to WinStar with a 3-year-old campaign in mind.”

Commissioner is a son of the stakes-winning mare Flaming Heart, making him a half-brother to 2014 Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up Laugh Track. But Pletcher isn't concerned about any distance limitations.

“I think he’s progressed a lot from the summer," Pletcher said. "He’s an A.P. Indy, and you don’t necessarily anticipate those horses being July 2-year-olds. He was able to break his maiden at Saratoga, and he’s a horse that we’ve always felt would improve at longer distances.”

Commissioner will be reunited with jockey John Velazquez, who rode the colt to victory at Saratoga. He will break from the rail, with We Miss Artie alongside in post 2.

We Miss Artie carried Ken and Sarah Ramsey's colors to victory in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last October prior to finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. In his only start since, the Ontario-bred son of Artie Schiller came up a head short to Storming Inti while ridden by Javier Castelllano in the Kitten's Joy Stakes on the Gulfstream grass on Jan. 19. He'll be ridden by Joe Bravo. The 3-year-old will carry 122 pounds, six more than both Commissioner and Top Billing.

Top Billing emerged from his defeat at the hands of Commissioner to post a last-to-first victory in an 8 1/2-furlong allowance at Gulfstream three weeks later. Drawn in post 12, the classically bred son of Curlin will have regular rider Joel Rosario in the irons.

"I think he is going in the right direction," McGaughey said. "I think he's doing good, he looks good, and everything's in order."

Wildcat Red drew off impressively in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes on Feb. 1 for trainer Jose Garoffalo; that followed a gutsy second-by-a-head finish to General a Rod in the Jan. 1 Gulfstream Park Derby. Wildcat Red will break from post 4 in the Fountain of Youth. The Florida-bred son of D'wildcat has hit the wire first in four of five career starts.

General a Rod will also be in the mix on Saturday and will start next door to Wildcat Red from post 5. The Mike Maker-trained colt will have the services of meet-leading rider Castellano.

Almost Famous, the fourth-place finisher in the Holy Bull, drew post 8. Trainer Pat Byrne will give a leg up to jockey Calvin Borel, who comes in from his Oaklawn Park base.

Also in the Fountain of Youth field are Medal Count (Joe Rocco Jr.), Casiguapo (Jose Lezcano), C. Zee (Edgard Zayas), Best Plan Yet (Paco Lopez), Our Caravan (Corey Lanerie), Hesinfront (Abdiel Jaen) and East Hall (Juan Leyva).

The 68th running of the Fountain of Youth will offer Kentucky Derby-qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the first four finishers.

Edited Gulfstream Park release with additional content by Dick Downey
@DowneyProfile

 

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