by John Mucciolo
The $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) headlines a superb 14-race card at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. However, the sophomore feature is far from the only major action to take place, as a total of six graded races on the turf alone will be contested.
The $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) is the final race on the card and attracted a talented field of 11. Grade 1 victor Channel Maker exits a pair of superb fields and should appreciate the class relief in this spot. The Bill Mott trainee was last seen finishing fifth in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).
Zulu Alpha comes off of a half-length victory in the W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3) on the course for conditioner Mike Maker. The Street Cry gelding has reached a new level since removing blinkers in the summer and he looms large in this spot. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the assignment.
Louisville Handicap (G3) winner Vettori Kin, Canadian standout Melmich and Group 1 star Village King also deserve mention in the field.
Bellavais was a stylish winner of the Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) most recently and is among the main players in the $150,000 Honey Fox Stakes. (G3). The Todd Pletcher trainee rates a big chance with Joel Rosario inheriting the mount.
Group 1 vixen Precieuse was a head second at Saratoga in her stateside debut and makes her 2019 bow in this affair. The five-year-old chestnut draws the rail and lures Javier Castellano to ride.
South Beach Stakes heroine Dolce Lili, Suwanee River Stakes (G3) vixen Valedictorian and 2018 Wonder Again Stakes (G3) starlet La Signare are also contenders in a well-matched field.
Sophomore fillies will travel one grassy mile in the $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3). Eight will go postward in the race, including three who are conditioned by Chad Brown.
French import Golconda was first or second in each of her trio of juvenile races and seems all set for her U.S. and three-year-old debut. The chestnut filly will have Castellano in the silks. The well-bred Cambier Parc looked the part in her first test on the lawn when dominating maiden foes by four lengths last out. The $1.25 million daughter of Medaglia d’Oro out of Sealy Hill has trained well in preparation for her stakes bow. Connectivity rallied from well back on debut to graduate at first asking at Gulfstream. The Midshipman filly draws widest of all with Jose Ortiz at the controls.
French invader Primela, Natalma Stakes (G1) runner-up My Gal Betty and Jessamine Stakes (G2) third Belle Laura could also make some noise in a strong field.
In the $150,000 The Very One Stakes (G3), fillies and mares will run 1 3/16 miles on the sod. Stronach Stables’ homebred Holy Helena is the defending champion of this contest and should improve after her sixth-place result in the La Prevoaynte Stakes (G3) last out. The Ghostzapper mare will be piloted by Irad Ortiz Jr.
The Shug McGaughey-trained Danceland, La Prevoyante third Semper Sententiae and local stakes heroine Lafta will be the main dangers to the likely favorite.
Tropical Park Derby star Breaking the Rules draws outside for the $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (G3). The four-year-old son of War Front concluded his sophomore campaign with a pair of dominant turf wins and is training well in anticipation of his 2019 bow.
Hembree went last-to-first to bag the El Prado Stakes most recently for Mike Maker. The late-running Grade 2 winner will be doing his best work in the stretch under Jose Ortiz. The speedy Siem Riep draws the rail and will attempt to take this crew all the way on the front end.
Kitten’s Joy Stakes victor Casa Creed, Armed Forces Stakes hero Louder Than Bombs and Dania Beach Stakes romper A Thread of Blue will vie in the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3). The 1 1/16 miles event for sophomores attracted eight overall and is often a very competitive test.