Gunnevera, Practical Joke and Three Rules, the one-two-three finishers in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, headline a list of 25 nominations to the 66th Florida Derby.
Gunnevera, trained by Antonio Sano, came from last to win the Fountain of Youth by 5 3/4 lengths. It was the third graded triumph of his career following juvenile victories in the Saratoga Special and Delta Downs Jackpot last year.
Practical Joke made his sophomore debut in the Fountain of Youth for trainer Chad Brown. He stalked Three Rules before edging away from that pacesetter by a half-length for second. He won the Hopeful and Champagne last year before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to cap his juvenile season.
Three Rules swept the Florida Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds in 2016. Trained by Jose Pinchin, he was also second in the Swale Feb. 4 at Gulfstream to kick off his 3-year-old season.
Irish War Cry, seventh as the Fountain of Youth favorite following his Holy Bull victory on Feb. 4 at Gulfstream, is also nominated along with Remsen Stakes winner Mo Town, Southwest Stakes winner One Liner and Gotham Stakes winner J Boys Echo. Among others made eligible for the race are State of Honor; the Todd Pletcher-trained trio of Always Dreaming, Battalion Runner and Third Day; and Classic Rock.
First run in 1952, the Florida Derby has produced 43 starters that have gone on to win 58 Triple Crown events: 23 in the Kentucky Derby, including 2016 winner Nyquist, 19 in the Preakness and 16 in the Belmont Stakes.
The Florida Derby is one of nine stakes, six of them graded, worth $2.25 million on the final Saturday of the Championship meet.
Edited Gulfstream Park release with additional content by Dick Downey