April 21, 2024

Dornoch, Locked headline Fountain of Youth; Just F Y I returns in Davona Dale

Dornoch breaking his maiden at Keeneland
Dornoch breaking his maiden at Keeneland (Photo courtesy of Keeneland)

The form of the Remsen (G2) has been flattered on a regular basis since it was run in early December. The winner of that race, Dornoch, might continue the trend in his season reappearance Saturday in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, which will distribute Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points to the respective top five finishers on a 50-25-15-10-5 basis, has attracted a stellar field. In addition to Dornoch, trainer Todd Pletcher will send out Locked, the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) third, and possibly Speak Easy, an eye-catching debut winner on Pegasus World Cup Day.

Dornoch looked beaten inside the eighth pole of the Remsen after setting a contested pace over a speed-favoring track, but re-rallied to edge Sierra Leone by a nose. That rival kicked off his 2024 campaign with a solid off-the-pace victory in the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 17. Drum Roll Please, the Remsen’s distant third-place finisher, captured the Jerome S. in early January before hitting the sidelines with an injury.

“I just don’t want him to go too forward. Hopefully he doesn’t have to run a crazy, big, fast number or anything like that too soon,” trainer Danny Gargan said. “We just want to keep him maintained in what he’s doing and hopefully he can be sound and be there on the first Saturday in May. Don’t get me wrong, we’d like to win the Fountain of Youth but it’s really not the goal.”

Locked, who was initially pointed toward the Sam F. Davis (G3) in early February before coming down with an illness, will be making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup, where he finished 6 3/4 lengths behind stablemate Fierceness, who was a shock loser of the Holy Bull (G3) in his season debut.

“Once he had that temperature he recovered nicely and had a nice work last week,” Pletcher said. “I think he’s going to appreciate more distance in these races as they get a little longer. He’s always been a high-class colt and he’s training very well at the moment.”

Speak Easy, meanwhile, was a 1 3/4-length winner over returning rival Victory Avenue in a seven-furlong maiden on Pegasus Day, for which he earned a 103 Brisnet Speed rating. Speak Easy has been cross-entered to a 1 1/8-mile allowance on Friday’s card.

Victory Avenue, from the same connections as last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Mage, will attempt to fare better in the Fountain of Youth than Mage did. Although Mage won at first asking on Pegasus Day, he could only finish fourth in the Fountain of Youth after a difficult trip.

Other notables in the Fountain of Youth include Frankie’s Empire and Le Dom Bro, one-two in the seven-furlong Swale S. last out, and Real Macho, an upset allowance winner in early February over Merit, who is also cross-entered to Friday’s aforementioned allowance.

Just F Y I, last year’s undefeated champion juvenile filly, will get her season started on Saturday as well when she takes on seven rivals in the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) over one mile.

The Bill Mott trainee captured the one-mile Frizette (G1) at Aqueduct by 3 3/4 lengths, and then held on by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles.

“We had her started back breezing and then I lost a week or 10 days,” Mott said. “She had a little skin issue which some of them get down here, so I missed a work with her. But we’ve been back and had four works since then.

“Some that look at her think that she’s probably grown a little bit. I see her every day so I don’t see it as much, but she seems to be doing well. Her works have been quite good.”

Among Just F Y I’s rivals is Leslie’s Rose, a winner in both career starts for Pletcher, including a seven-furlong allowance in early January. Other potential contenders include Into Champagne, winner of the Jan. 7 Glitter Woman S. for Ian Wilkes; Forward Gal (G3) runner-up Fiona’s Magic; and Queen’s Martini and Whocouldaskformo, the respective second-place finishers in the Cash Run S. and Suncoast S.

Like the Fountain of Youth, the Davona Dale will offer Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points on a 50-25-15-10-5 basis.