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Eternal Youth

Posted by on 2/23/2015 9:47:51 PM

Eternal youth is a common theme in mythology and a popular subject in fiction but the truth of the matter is the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park over the decades has been a harbinger to find winners of Triple Crown races.

This race was named for the ever-searching Ponce de Leon.

The only constant in this world is change and the timing of the Fountain of Youth has changed over the decades. Back in the day when horses were stouter and could handle a more rigorous schedule, the time between this prep and the Florida Derby has fluctuated.

Back in the late 1950s, Tim Tam won the Fountain of Youth only 10 days before taking the Florida Derby. And the way horses train on the Triple Crown Trail. It is not uncommon for runners to have just 2 preps before the Kentucky Derby but Tim Tam ran 7 times before his May status symbol.

A total of five Fountain of Youth winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. Besides Tim Tam, Kauai King did it in 1966; the great Spectacular Bid turned the double play in 1979 and probably should have won the Triple Crown.

Thunder Gulch in the mid 1990s and Orb 2 years ago parlayed Fountain of Youth to a Derby success.

Several won this Florida stepping-stone and went on to glory in the Belmont Stakes. Stephan’s Odyssey, Bet Twice and Union Rags were the culprits.

Upstart lost a heartbreaker when taken down last Saturday in the Fountain of Youth but he should be back to play another day. His key race was the third to Texas Red and Carpe Diem in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Take nothing away from this year’s Fountain of Youth winner Itsaknockout. He proved he is a fighter and he is still learning the game. His 90 Beyer Speed Figure was not bad and not great.

Last year Wildcat Red won the Fountain of Youth with a 101 figure before losing by a neck in the Florida Derby.

Orb won the Fountain of Youth with a 97 Beyer, posted the same figure winning the Florida Derby and then made it 5 wins in a row taking the Kentucky Derby with a 104 Beyer.

The landscape has changed in regard to the Derby because of the qualifying point systems. Connections cannot make any wrong moves as they map out a strategy to get to Churchill Downs in May. They have to have their horses set to earn points and move forward or they will be on the outside looking in.

As of now there are 6 more Kentucky Derby preps that offer a 50-20-10-5 point reward for the 1st through 4th finishers.

Things will start to ramp up concerning the qualifying points about 5 weeks from now when the Florida Derby, UAE Derby, Louisiana Derby, Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby start rewarding winners with a 100-40-20-10 qualifying system.

That’s when the big boys will come out and the pedal will be on the gas full throttle.

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