Ete Indien shot straight to the lead when the starting gates opened and rolled to a convincing wire-to-wire triumph in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, drawing away to win by 8 1/2 lengths while drifting out in the stretch. The Patrick Biancone-trained colt virtually guaranteed himself a Kentucky Derby berth in the qualifying race, registering his first stakes victory after finishing a clear second to Tiz the Law in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull (G3), and Ete Indien completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.02.
Florent Geroux replaced an injured Luca Panici in the saddle.
Dennis’ Moment was never a factor as the 13-10 favorite, coming up empty on the far turn after stalking in midpack, and weakened to last in his 2020 opener.
“He bobbled out of the gate but then after that he regrouped and I thought I was in a good spot,” Flavien Prat said of Dennis’ Moment. “When I hit the five-eighths pole, he just dropped the bit and after that I was done. After that, there was no reason to beat him up. He didn’t want to go.”
Ete Indien broke on top from post 11, and the 3-1 third choice had crossed over in front of rivals by the beginning of the first turn. After establishing opening splits in :23.14 and :46.72 on a short lead, the 3-year-old began to widen the advantage rounding the far turn. He brilliantly accelerated into the short stretch, losing focus late as he drifted out toward the grandstand fence.
“We have been through a week of hiccups,” Biancone said. “First, we lose our jockey and second, we draw (outside). Good horses can overcome everything. I think he’s an exceptional horse. We look forward to the future.”
With the 50-point prize in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier, Ete Indien increased his total to 54. He is owned by Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream with Me Stable, Horse France America, D P Racing, and Biancone.
“As soon as I secured a spot, I just put the horse on cruise control and the horse was nice and easy and took a nice breather,” Geroux said. “When he got into a rhythm, he just felt very good. He wanted to get out at first when he saw the lights (in the stretch), but he’s very professional. I didn’t think he was that quick, to be honest. I didn’t think he had this kind of speed, which gives us way more options in the future.”
Candy Tycoon, overlooked at 23-1 following a four-length maiden win over the track on Jan. 25, got up for second in his stakes debut, edging 5-2 second choice As Seen On Tv by a neck. It was another head back to Remsen (G2) winner and Withers (G3) runner-up Shotski, who switched to tactics and missed second by less than a length after rallying into contention on the far turn.
The top four were nearly 10 lengths clear of Country Grammer in fifth, and Masterday, The Falcon, Gear Jockey and Liam’s Lucky Charm came next.
By Summer Front, a hard-sitting son of War Front who won seven turf stakes, including four graded events, Ete Indien started his career on turf. He graduated the first time out at Gulfstream in mid-September, closing from off the pace, but was never a factor concluding his juvenile season with an eighth in the grassy Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland 3 1/2 weeks later.
The dark bay switched to dirt and showed surprising early speed, leading wire-to-wire in a 2 ½-length win over entry-level allowance rivals at Gulfstream on Dec. 20, and Ete Indien ran a big race after setting the pace in the Fountain of Youth. He proved no match for Tiz the Law entering the stretch, but netted a 104 Brisnet Speed rating while saving second by 11 1/2 lengths.
With Saturday’s $235,600 payday, Ete Indien has earned $333,156.
He was bred in Kentucky by Robert B. Tiller and Eric Buckley, and Ete Indien is out of the Mizzen Mast mare East India. The sophomore passed through the sales ring twice in America before being purchased by Biancone for $269,544 at last year’s Arqana May 2-year-old sale in France.
Biancone said the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on March 28 probably will be next.
“He’ll need to improve to win the Florida Derby, but we are in Florida, he trains in Florida and we love Florida, so I think we’ll take a shot if he is in good form.”
The trainer also has Sole Volante, one of the favorites for next Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and Biancone is excited to pursue the Kentucky Derby with Ete Indien.
“At one stage of my life I was playing poker and what you say? no gamble, no future? You have to gamble a little bit to have a future and I think that horse was the perfect horse to do it.”