Promises Fulfilled Shows the Way in Fountain of Youth
From 18-1 Longshot to Kentucky Derby Gate
By Dick Downey
When the gate opened for the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes, Promises Fulfilled was crossed over from the outside post by Irad Ortiz, Jr. to take the lead, and that's where he stayed.
Making his first start since setting the pace and finishing third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in late November, this time Promises Fulfilled went the whole trip up front.
With Strike Power in closest pursuit while making his first start at two turns under Luis Saez, Promises Fulfilled clicked off fractions of 23.80, 48.39 and 1:12.60 while Strike Power stayed a length behind him, parked to his outside. Meanwhile Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic, at 3-5 odds while making his first start in four months, was five wide and a couple of lengths back in fourth, then third, as Jose Ortiz surveyed the front runners.
Rounding into the top of the stretch, Strike Power was asked for his all, and he loomed toward Promises Fulfilled. Good Magic had been asked on the turn and advanced toward the leader. Promises Fulfilled held Strike Power at bay through the stretch, and Good Magic was set down for the drive, but he was too short to make up the needed ground.
Promises Fulfilled prevailed by 2 1/4 lengths, with Good Magic another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Machismo, who broke poorly and was well back early, picked up some pieces to get fourth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths.
Those four were followed by Marconi, Gotta Go, Storm Runner, He Takes Charge and Peppered. Free Drop Billy was scratched this morning and is being pointed to the Gotham Stakes.
At 18-1 odds, Promises Fulfilled was transformed from a prep race longshot to a guarantee of a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate with 50 points earned in the Fountain of Youth. He now has a total of 52 points and ranks second on the Kentucky Derby points chart. Bravazo has 54 points.
Strike Power, making his stakes debut, was awarded 20 points for finishing second. Good Magic, who had 24 points going in, now has 34. Fourth finisher Machismo earned five points in his first stakes outing.
The winner was timed in 1:44.17 and garnered $238,000 of the $400,000 purse. He paid backers with $2 tickets $38.40 to win, $12.80 to place and $4.60 to show.
Promises Fulfilled was one of two horses in the Fountain of Youth trained by Dale Romans. He also conditions Storm Runner as well as the dropout, Free Drop Billy.
Promises Fulfilled didn't have great speed figures coming into the race, but the win was his third from four starts. After breaking his maiden sprinting at Churchill Downs on Sept. 17, he won a seven-furlong allowance race at Keeneland on Oct. 13 before his two-turn debut in the Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 25 when he was beaten 2 1/2 lengths at 10-1 odds.
By Shackleford, a formidable front-runner in his own right, Promises Fulfilled is out of Marquee Delivery, by Marquetry and was bred in Kentucky by David Jacobs. He's owned by Robert J. Baron. Romans acted as agent acquiring Promises Fulfilled for $37,000 at the Keeneland September 2016 Yearling Sale.
Promises Fulfilled was a late-born foal. On Kentucky Derby day, he'll still be six days shy of his calendar birthday.
Dale Romans, winning trainer: “I thought that he could open up, and he did. It was a bunch of fast horses, but a lot of times that speed doesn’t materialize, and coming from the outside it kind of pressed our hand. On the turn if you wait to see what everybody else does, you’re going to be hung wide. I just told the jock, ‘Push the pedal and try to open up and see where they go from there. If somebody comes and chases you down the backside, then ride a smart race.’ They let him go in 48 with his ears up, and I knew it was going to take a heck of a horse to pass him at that point. ...(H)e was just galloping along so easy. I’ve had a few horses in my career that can just go fast from beginning to end and have that speed and stamina. Roses in May was one of them, and this is probably my second one. He showed that at Churchill."
Where next? “If a horse runs good here, you keep them here."
“I think it is muddy water right now, but it’ll start clearing itself up. This round of preps and the next round are the two where they all come together. Right now there’s nobody just running away from the crop, and that makes it exciting."
“I had a lot of confidence in this horse because of the way he trained. He trained so well, and the race he ran when he was third was as impressive a race as a horse can run. To do what he did and be as compromised as he was and still run third to two good horses, he’s a special horse. The way he’s been working over this racetrack, he’ll take his racetrack with him. He doesn’t care where he is.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard Promises Fulfilled: “The trainer told me to go to the lead and hold on. When I asked my horse, he just took off again. He was impressive today, he ran the whole race. He broke great and was ready, the trainer was right.”
Winning owner Robert Baron: “Dale has done a great job with this horse. I’m so excited Best horse you have ever owned? “He’s right up there. I’ve never won the Fountain of Youth, I’ll tell you that much, and we’re on the Derby trail so it’s very exciting. This is the biggest win of my career. Been with Dale since 1997 or ’98. We’ve been together a long time. He’s like family. He’s been training lights out for the last four five weeks coming into the race. And he said before the race ‘We’re going to send him,’ and we sent him. He’s got that kind of speed. Irad rode him perfect."
Trainer Mark Hennig (Strike Power, 2d): “I thought he ran well. It was his first time stretching out. He handled it well, the fact that he had to settle off that horse. They were dead set on being there. Luis said, “We broke sharp. If I tried to go, we’d be going to go too fast.’ He said, ‘Let me just set off him.’ He thought he had him when he switched leads, but the horse kept going. I think he got a little tired. He went from 5 1/2 to seven, now this. Hopefully, he can keep moving forward.”
Jockey Luis Saez (Strike Power): “I had pretty nice trip. He broke good and I knew the guy outside was going to send his horse and the track had been pretty good for speed. My first thought was to break and take the lead but I knew if I went he was going to go with me, head and head. I think he just need a race the first time going that distance. He’s going to be OK next time.”
Trainer Chad Brown (Good Magic, 3d): “He got a good trip. He had no trouble and got good position early. The latter part of the race, he didn’t have it. The horses that were 1-2 the whole way just kicked ahead of him. The horse came back a little tired. He was blowing pretty good. It looked like he needed the race. Hopefully, he got what he needed out of it and go on to the next step.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz (Good Magic): “He broke good. Irad went and Saez was second. I sat third in the perfect position, rode him like the best horse. They slowed it down on the backside pretty good, going 23, 48 but my horse was pretty handy getting whatever I wanted to. When I went after them in the three-eighths pole, he didn’t kick very well. It’s a speed favoring track with a short stretch, but no excuses. He’s coming off the layoff and I’m sure he will move forward with this race under his belt, next time we’ll be OK.”
Jockey Albin Jimenez (Machismo, 4th): “It’s not how we planned it. We planned to be first or second, and right when they opened the gate the horse was going back and forth and I was trying to make sure he was ready, and he broke bad. But, he finished running. He’s a very good horse.”
Trainer Dale Romans (Storm Runner, 7th): "The race didn't go the way we wanted it to."
Jockey Joel Rosario (Storm Runner): “The horse on the lead gave me the rough a little bit and I tried to get in there, but they were going slow. I expected more speed and we were up there trying to get my spot, but we got shoved off a little bit. It was ok to just follow....for a little after that, but my horse wasn’t too happy with that. He traveled ok after that and gave it up.”
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione (He Takes Charge, 8th): “My horse broke good, there was a little traffic trouble in front of us going around the first turn. When it came time to run, I think he just kind of had enough with all the dirt. It’s a new experience for him with all those horses coming out of the maiden special weight, but he came back good and we’ll just regroup and try something else.”
Dale Romans, trainer of Free Drop Billy (scratched): “The owner and I made the decision. He’s already a grade 1 winner, and we just wanted as easy a race as we can get going into the last round of preps, so we decided to go the New York way. This race looked like it was coming up the toughest of the year, and I think it did. It was just a strategy play.”