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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Top Runners Exit Fountain of Youth Well


Their Trainers Satisfied and Mulling Plans

Gunnevera is “happy and sound” on Sunday, per his trainer Antonio Sano.

“He’s very good this morning, 100 percent sound,” said Sano, whose stable is based at Gulfstream Park West. “He’s very good, the horse.”

Gunnevera rallied from last in a field of 10 to capture the Fountain of Youth yesterday and tops the leaderboard for the Road to the Kentucky Derby with 64 points.

“It was very exciting. The horse demonstrated that he was the best horse in the race,” Sano said. “Right now, the horse has demonstrated he’s the best, to me.”

Javier Castellano, the regular rider of Gunnevera, bolsters Sano’s confidence.

“Javier is a friend of mine. He’s very confident in the horse,” said Sano. “He’s a very strong closer.”

Sano said Gunnevera was ’90 percent” to run next in the Florida Derby.

Practical Joke

Chad Brown reported that Practical Joke, second in the Fountain of Youth, “looks good so far” on Sunday morning at Palm Meadows. Brown wouldn't commit Practical Joke to the Florida Derby.

Three Rules

Three Rules was also doing well today after setting the pace and being edged by Practical Joke for the place. Trainer Jose Pinchin said he was impressed with the performance.
“He came out of it good,” Pinchin said. “I thought he ran a very good race. I thought he ran very well considering the track was slow and he didn’t get a break. (Irish War Cry) really went with him the first five furlongs, and Gunnevera passed him, but he stuck with (Practical Joke). It was a good run.”

 Pinchin didn’t rule out a return in the Florida Derby.

 “Right now it’s up to the owners, so I’ll wait to hear from them,” he said. “He’s got a lot of options.”

 Irish War Cry

Previously undefeated Irish War Cry, who won the Holy Bull in impressive fashion, appeared well Sunday morning, trainer Graham Motion said. Irish War Cry was  seventh as the even-money favorite in the Fountain of Youth.

“Really, he seems fine. I have no issues with him,” Motion said. “He seemed to cool out fine and he looked good this morning. It’s a real head-scratcher.

“The one thing I blame myself for perhaps is not telling Joel he should have taken a hold of him and taken him back. I think to compete in these races, at some point you’ve got to be able to be adaptable to different scenarios. This horse, if he’s going to compete at this level, he’s got to be able to relax,” Motion said. “I think it was a combination of maybe laying a little too close to a pretty good pace on what was a drying-out, cuppy racetrack and maybe just regressing off his last race when he ran such a big race.”

Motion said he hadn’t initially targeted the Fountain of Youth following the Holy Bull, but the way Irish War Cry had done in the four weeks since convinced him to take a shot rather than wait for the Florida Derby.

“I certainly considered not running him yesterday,” Motion said. “From a handicapping point of view, he jumped so far forward in the Holy Bull there was every opportunity he was going to regress in this race, but I felt that his regression would still be good enough to be very competitive, and he certainly trained so well I had no reason to think that he couldn’t run on Saturday. He was in such great form in everything he’d done since the Holy Bull.

“It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback the next day and second-guess your decisions,” he added. “The good thing is right now he seems to be in good shape.”

The Florida Derby is on April 1, but Motion indicated he is likely to give Irish War Cry more time before his next start.

“I’ve got to sit on him for a couple of weeks and see where we’re at. My instant gut reaction is I would have a hard time running this horse back in four weeks off of that kind of a race,” he said. “I don’t want to make a hasty decision. Whatever the decision, he’s not going anywhere for a couple of weeks. I’ll keep him down here while we try to figure out the next step.”

Edited Gulfstream Park release with additional content by Dick Downey

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