Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

The Fountain Of Youth, Risen Star and More

Posted by Brian Appleton on February 20, 2010

Buddy's Saint

The Fountain of Youth Stakes could easily prove to be the most important and influential Kentucky Derby preps to date the way the race has taken shape. Buddy’s Saint has been vying for favoritism with Lookin At Lucky at the top of most all Derby lists and leads a fantastic field of 3 year old colts. Buddy’s Saint goes to the post as the favorite off his impressive open-length victories in the Nashua and Remsen stakes last year. He makes his highly anticipated 3 year old debut in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and I believe he will emerge as the #1 leading Kentucky Derby candidate. Jackson Bend could provide his greatest challenge, after finishing a game second in the Holy Bull Stakes, Jackson Bend has been turning in a series of good works for trainer Nick Zito, the last work coming in a 4 furlong bullet. He is sharper than ever for the Fountain of Youth and the only question that seems to be unanswered here is his ability to get the 1 1/8 miles. Eskendereya from the barn of loaded trainer Todd Pletcher comes into the Fountain of Youth off an impressive front-running victory in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on January 7th.  I’m a sucker for chestnuts and Eskendereya sports a stunning chestnut coat and his talent is just as stunning. He won the Pilgrim Stakes last year

Jackson Bend

at Belmont Park by 8 lengths before turning in a 9th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on synthetics. Another runner from trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn is Aikenite. Last seen finishing sixth in the Holy Bull Stakes after sitting much closer to the pace than usual Aikenite looks to return off that poor showing with more kick this time. Pulsion is also making his 3 year old debut after finishing 11th in the Breeders’ Cup. Before that he finished behind Lookin at Lucky in the Norfolk Stakes (gr.1). He was scratched from the Holy Bull after developing mucus in his lungs earlier in the year. Three of my favorite colts on the Derby trail are all entered here, Buddy’s Saint, Jackson Bend and Eskendereya. I think Buddy’s Saint is the superior athlete, but no one will be surprised to see any of the others mentioned win this.

Ron The Greek

The Risen Star Stakes heralds the return of surprise Lecompte victor Ron the Greek, but this time he starts as the race favorite.  His come from behind style will be the same strategy here and if he’s as good as he looked winning last out I think he’ll blow on by the field once again. Drosselmeyer won at 9 furlongs at Gulfstream in January after making several moves through the lane and splitting horses to win. He looks to improve off that effort in the Risen Star. The horse I will be watching the most closely aside from Ron the Greek will be Discreetly Mine. He was grade 2 placed last year and always seemed to display heart and determination in his runnings.

The Southwest Stakes should be Dublin’s party if you take the word of trainer D. Wayne Lukas seriously. Dublin was “the” horse at some point last year, and after two unplaced efforts in two of the premier juvenile dirt races almost everyone wrote him off as a flash-in-the-pan. I personally feel he is going to run away with the Southwest and move his way back onto the list of serious Derby contenders. Conveyance, the undefeated Bob Baffert trainee has won all three

Dublin

of his races to date but has never raced on traditional dirt. Bob Baffert colts should never be underestimated, he seems to know how to get a horse to the Derby better than almost anyone else. Mission Impazible and Domination are the two question marks in the Southwest, either one of them seems ready to burst through their juvenile shells at any time and become leading Derby candidates. Mission Impazible seems to be the better of the two and has the best chance to place I think.

The Hutcheson Stakes looks like a showdown between Saratoga Special and Futurity Stakes winner D’Funnybone and

D'Funnybone

Spectacular Bid Stakes winner A Little Warm. Dual grade 2 winner D’Funnybone makes his 2010 debut in the Hutcheson for trainer Rick Dutrow. He last finished 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on the synthetic surface, a completely uncharacteristic showing for the colt and he should bounce back in a big way in the Hutcheson.  Radiohead returns from a 7th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in just his second start in the United States. He won 2 of his 6 starts in England as a Juvenile but has not been overly impressive with his preparation leading up to this race. A Little Warm won the Spectacular Bid Stakes last out in the mud and won an allowance race by more than 10 lengths before that. He is obviously very talented and his running style of rating just off the pace usually works very well in the Derby. D’Funnybone and A Little Warm could easily finish one-two here.

The El Camino Real Derby brings the 1-2-3 finishers from the California Derby back together. Connemara finished second to Ranger Heartley in the California Derby as the favorite and is trained by the red-hot Todd Pletcher. Ranger Heartley has won 3 of his last 4 starts and if he can win again could make his way onto some Derby watch lists. Thomas Baines finished 3rd to Ranger Heartley and Connemara last out and has won only 1 of his 10 lifetime starts.

2009 Champion Grass Male and Older Male Gio Ponti makes his 2010 debut in the Tampa Bay Breeders’ Cup on

Gio Ponti

Saturday. He returns for the first time after finishing second to Zenyatta in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Tampa Bay Breeders’ Cup will serve as his prep for the Dubai World Cup and everyone is anticipating his return that could herald great things to come in 2010.

Don’t forget to check out my new page on racehorse biographies!  Enjoy watching the magnificent line-up of races this weekend. I am unfortunately not going to be able to watch the races live because I am going on my first ski trip this weekend, but I will be on the computer searching for minute-to-minute updates. Good luck to all!

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4 Responses to “The Fountain Of Youth, Risen Star and More”

  1. Great preview Brian. I voted for the Risen Star in your poll mostly because I think Drosselmeyer is the real deal. Also intrigued by Stay Put. If these two do well, they should be major players on the Derby trail from here on out.

    BTW, I like the new biographies page; it’s always nice to learn more racing history. This sport is full of great stories.

    • Thanks Steve, I was really happy with the way Discreetly Mine won the Risen Star. He was one of my favorites last year and it was nice to see him get a graded win under his belt.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the new page, I had been trying to compile enough information on that horse to write a short bio, but could never find the right sources.

  2. I will also be peeking into the Biographies page.

    I’m not a historian (as you might have guessed 😉 ) but having put in a quarter of a century at the racetrack it might be fun to rehash the blasts from the not too distant past.

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