The Kentucky Derby prep race season takes a big step forward Saturday with the running of the Grade II Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.
This is the first prep of the year where you can start to make a case for serious Kentucky Derby contenders.
The race is 13th on the Gulfstream card is set for a 2:35 p.m. PDT post.
Following is a look at the key runners in the race.
Hidden Scroll (9/5): Look no further than last year and Justify as to why the hype surrounding this horse is so big. The Bill Mott runner has one career start, a 14-length win is straight maiden company in the slop at Gulfstream. He earned a 104 Beyer and was suddenly thrust into the conversation of potential Derby winners. Joel Rosario has the ride once again. Is he as good as advertised? Only time will tell, but there is a buzz every where as many have already anointed him this years’ Justify, a horse that didn’t run his first race until he was three.
Vekoma (7/2): Has won both starts for trainer George Weaver and jockey Manuel Franco. But he has not run a race since November 4, leaving many scratching their heads as to why so long between starts. Appears to prefer the sit close stalking style but faces a tougher field than he did in the Grade III Nashua at Aqueduct.
Signalman (9/2): Three straight graded races, with a win in his last start, the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Cup on November 24 at Churchill Downs. Kenneth McPeak trains and Brian Hernandez will ride for the fourth straight start. Five career starts so far, and he has finished no worse than third. Plenty of experience running in good races.
Code of Honor (6/1): Two nice starts to his career was followed by a nightmarish effort in the Mucho Macho Man on January 5 at Gulfstream. As the prohibitive favorite, he bumped at the start, then had trouble throughout, racing wide and finishing a well-beaten fourth. There’s been a solid and consistent series of works for training Shug McGaughey. John Velazquez, who was up for the troubled trip, is back up again. If you liked the horse before his last start, you should be willing to give him another chance here.
Bourbon War (10/1): Two wins in three starts for trainer Mark Henning and jockey Irad Ortiz. After breaking his maiden in his debut, he came back and was fourth in the Remsen at Aqueduct on December 1. After going to the shelf for six weeks he came back with a solid win in an optional claimer over the Gulfstream track on January 18.
Global Campaign (10/1): Got a feeling he will take some action and realistically you are looking at 4-1 or 5-1 by the time they go to post. Stanley Hough is the trainer and Luis gets the call. Saez has been up for both starts, a maiden win January 5 and an optional claimer on February 9. Given both wins have come at Gulfstream will entice some action at the windows. This is one to watch.
Everfast (20-1): Had to list this runner for Dale Romans off the performance in the Holy Bull, the prep for this race. He used a late charge in the middle of the track for jockey Chris Landeros to finish second at 128-1. There was not much to make you like the horse before that race in his previous six starts so now it falls to you how much credence you want to give the last start.
By Dennis Miller