June 13, 2024

Greatest Honour favored in Fountain of Youth; champion Vequist returns in Davona Dale

Greatest Honour
Greatest Honour takes the Holy Bull Stakes (Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson)

Fountain of Youth S. (G2) — Race 14 (6:10 p.m. ET)

A dominant winner of last month’s Holy Bull (G3), Greatest Honour will look to enhance his increasingly progressive record, and earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) starting gate, in Saturday’s $300,000 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

Trained by Shug McGaughey, the long-winded son of Tapit romped by 5 3/4 lengths in the Holy Bull, defeating returning rivals Tarantino and 11-10 favorite Prime Factor.

“We’d like to see some speed ahead of him. When you have a horse that comes from behind, if you have some pace in front of you, it helps you,” McGaughey said. “But I’m not going to be overly worried if there isn’t.”

Tarantino crashed the Holy Bull exacta at odds of 26-1 in what was his dirt debut, while trainer Todd Pletcher expects more from Prime Factor, who was stretching out from a six-furlong debut maiden win in the Holy Bull.

“He came out of that race good. He came back with two really good breezes,” Pletcher said. “We’re just hoping it was a lack of experience and seasoning.”

Two intriguing newcomers to the Triple Crown trail are Fire At Will and Drain the Clock. The Mike Maker-trained Fire At Will won three stakes as a juvenile, including comfortable scores in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Pilgrim (G2) on the grass at big odds. The son of Declaration of War also captured the off-the-turf With Anticipation S. at Saratoga, albeit in the slop against three rivals. The speedy Drain the Clock breaks from post 1 in his two-turn debut after romping in the Swale (G3) and Limehouse S. around one turn earlier in the meet.

King’s Ovation, a distant second behind Drain the Clock in the Swale, could improve with the added distance for trainer Dale Romans.

The Fountain of Youth offers Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers, with the winner virtually assured a slot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in May from a points perspective.

Davona Dale S. (G2) — Race 12 (5:04 p.m. ET)

Vequist, last year’s champion juvenile filly, emerges from her winter break on Saturday for the $200,000 Davona Dale S. (G2), a one-turn mile that will award Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers.

A potentially tricky race that attracted a full field of 12 and which proved the undoing of a former two-year-old champion, Jaywalk, in 2019, Vequist nonetheless burnishes terrific credentials having captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Spinaway (G1) last season by widening margins.

“I expect her to run well,” trainer Butch Reid said. “We don’t have the screws completely tightened for this one but it should be a nice stepping-stone with some big races down the line in mind.”

Millefeuille shortens up a furlong after getting run down late in the nine-furlong Demoiselle (G2) in December, while Curlin’s Catch cuts back a mere 40 yards following an impressive score in the Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs earlier this month. Another to watch for is the stakes-winning Crazy Beautiful, who disappointed in the Breeders’ Cup after second-place efforts in the Alcibiades (G1) and Pocahontas (G3).