02/27/2011 3:31PM

Soldat's Fountain of Youth

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On Jan. 23, I posted some thoughts in this space on how I was skeptical of Soldat's big double-digit allowance win in relatively fast final time two days earlier at Gulfstream Park because that score came over the sort of sloppy track that often artificially skews good or poor performances.

Well, it was made plainly obvious Saturday that my skepticism was misguided. By virtue of his victory in the Fountain of Youth on a fast track at Gulfstream, Soldat proved that he does not require a wet surface to be successful on dirt. So does that mean I have now become a card carrying member of the Soldat Fan Club? While I am not quite as skeptical of Soldat as I once was, the answer is, no. Not yet, anyway.

I have a few reservations about Soldat's Fountain of Youth. First concerns the pace. Outside of some token pressure through interior fractions from an 80-1 shot who didn't even manage to finish, Soldat controlled a comfortable pace, which is always a huge advantage.

Another thing that doesn't sit right with me is how Soldat had to work as hard as he did after controlling that moderate pace to keep Gourmet Dinner at bay through a final furlong run in an uninspiring 13.04 seconds. Gourmet Dinner is a nice, hard hitting colt, and I'd love to own him. But Gourmet Dinner has never been confused with being a leader of his division. He's limited. So if Soldat had to dig deep to turn Gourmet Dinner back by two, hard-fought lengths, then how well could Soldat have possibly run?

Finally, there is the not-so-insignificant matter of To Honor and Serve being a virtual no show in the Fountain of Youth in his first start since his impressive victory in the Remsen last November. That To Honor and Serve would not be fully cranked Saturday could have been expected given his conservative connections, and the fact that his real goal is the Kentucky Derby. But after making only a mild run at the lead after racing wide around both turns, it was stunning to see To Honor and Serve searching for the oxygen turning for home.

To Honor and Serve, who finished a very large looking 4 3-4 lengths behind Gourmet Dinner in third, threw in a dud that might be best forgiven, and I wouldn't write him off just yet. But with To Honor and Serve not showing up, that greatly reduced the Fountain of Youth's degree of difficulty, and made Soldat's task all the easier.

mr velvet More than 1 year ago
Speed was absolutely dominant on both Friday and Saturday, with no horses winning from off the pace. All of the following winners were in dirt races: Soldat, Flashpoint, upfrontanddangerous, courtesy call, funny sunny, undisputed queen(26-1), archaemenes, arch traveler, san paublo There were only 2 winners outside of the first 3 placings at first call on either day, with one of them being R Heat Lightning. Both of them were in 4th Just some food for thought
chuck seddio More than 1 year ago
to honor and serve looked like a million dollars prior to his poor performance. soldat appears to be a true stayer and the longer he goes the better he gets. i am no longer skeptical about a surface preference for him and believe he will even run on even synthetics. unless uncle mo runs a hole in the wind soldat appears the legitimate derby favorite. you never know how they progress from 2-3 uncle mo falls into that catagory. soldat reminds me on invasor, a kiaran import who never got the headlines but was was as workmanlike as they come. going to be fun in may,i believe this crop is not as strong as previously thought,and my triple crown threat is soldat. mucho macho man is a fraud as is honor and serve,dialed in who knows,his one turn mile was enhanced by an outside post and aided by a fast pace,cal 3 year olds are simply not good enough this year so everything is pointing soldat,i am also old school liking the fact soldat has raced 7 times by now and hate the way these horses are being babied these days. i would like further if soldat ran at keenland like street sense did before his derby win and give soldat even more foundation.
james barry More than 1 year ago
I would say you all need to go back and look at all of Soldat's races. He can rate just fine. He wont be on the lead on Derby day I can tell you that. In the With Anticipation he got out early then settled in behind the leader just fine. He sat well back of a dawdling pace in the Pilgrim. In the BC Juvy he rated so well he got stuck down in inside and didn't get a clear run until late. His first two starts on dirt were at 5f and 5 1/2f respectively, so they are tosses. He actually finished in front of Pluck and Santiva in those races though. Will he be run down Uncle Mo? Who knows. Will he be able to hold off Dialed In? Who knows. But right now he belongs with, and probably above, anyone else going right now.
Derbyme More than 1 year ago
Soldat has similar form, similar style, and similar stride as Big Brown. They have an almost machine like efficiency. Soldat has more experience, and healthier feet (knock knock). Anyone who actually watches races knows that races are run on a track and not on news sheet or breeding shed. Gourmet Dinner's pedigree screams sprint. Anyone who's actually seen him run could tell he wanted two turns again. I also heard the owner of Flashpoint puclically challenge Bob Baffert and The Factor to a need for speed showdown in the Swale Stakes. He has suggested that Gulfstream (who owns Santa Anita) bump the purse of both speedballs run. He has a good relationship with Bob who trains horses for his stable out west. Now that would be a fun match up!
S.L. More than 1 year ago
Soldat's done what's been asked and stands near the top of this crop... at This Time in the Derby season. Solid 2-year old foundation, 2.47 Dosage with good stamina on the Dam side, two 1 1/8 wins in his 3 -year old campaign. I say the jury's out on him until he likely faces tougher in the Fla. Derby. It would be nice though to see some inspiring efforts from this crop in the next few weeks though.
Michael More than 1 year ago
...Seriously? ...someone still uses dosage? THAT'S the basis (or part of) your position? ...dosage?!?!? WOW. It's 1980 all over again!
harrypalmer More than 1 year ago
To Honor looked agitated in warm ups and at the gate. He could be injured and they don't even know it.
davidrose More than 1 year ago
I totally disagree with your view of To Honor and Serve in the post parade. He looked the absolute picture of health. He was on his toes prancing with his neck bowed, as if he was feeling really good and struting his stuff. As a trainer myself, I would very much like every horse I ran come on the track with the demeanor he displayed on Saturday. Everyone knows that Mr. Mott did not have this horse cranked up to lay it all on the line to win this race and gut him out by doing it. My bet is that Mott told Velasquez not to abuse him when he started to get tired. If you watch the way Johnny V rode him thru the lane, you'll see that he doesn't get after him with the whip thru the stretch. He hand rode thru the lane. This race was a simply a tightner for bigger and better things down the road. I'm not saying he is going to be the horse to beat the best 3yr olds around, but I do think you shouldn't make a comment such as yours, unless you have some evidence to back up your claim.
ajkreider More than 1 year ago
Obviously, you shouldn't get too hyped up or dismissive about any horse this early. But I think you've focused too much on the final furlong and raw time. The final furlong in the fast Hutcheson was also 13 seconds, and the runaway Davona Dale winner also slowed down. The top class allowance earlier in the day bunch ran the same distance a full 2 seconds slower. I think we should conclude that the track was tiring - unusual for the big races at GP, but the 96 Beyer for the winner looks just about right, and is just what you'd want and expect coming off a huge effort and with another race between now and the Derby. While I agree that Gourmet Dinner doesn't get anyone's toes tingling, he was last see beating Mucho Macho Man to the wire in the Holy Bull. The same Mucho Macho Man that won the Risen Star next out. Chopped liver he isn't. Definitely, a horse to watch.
Don More than 1 year ago
Thanks Mike, I mostly agree, and had the same "wait and see" approach before FOY, did not expect Soldat to perform this well on dry track, and he did do well and won.....I still will wait, I was wrong about Smarty Jones in past years, but really have to wonder as the KD stretch out comes if this front runner will last, War Front did, but if these young boys know what he will do, I expect he will up against it, like Smarty Jones, unfortuately was in Belmont...to me Uncle Mo is the one to beat until he is beat.....Don
Benny More than 1 year ago
WOW!!! Come on Mike.......... What is it going to take to give Soldat some respect? All he has done is perform great, regardless of track condition or competition. Lets face it, this horse loves to run and is as game as they come. Runs hard on turf, wet dirt, slop, and now a fast track. Soldat has conquered everything put before him. He is ALWAYS in the exacta! Soldat didn't have a total dream trip. He was stuck inside, and got away a little tardy. He was used hard to get position before the first turn. He then rated perfectly, and continued on like a good thing. What horse was going to catch him the next 1/8 or 3/16 of a mile? Answer....NONE. Is it his fault they didn't have it?........hardly. He ran them off their feet. Soldat also had plenty left in the tank when all was said and done. Soldat runs hard, settles, and simply loves running. The condition of the track is not a factor. The distance is not a factor. Sounds like an excellent Derby horse to me. In my mind only Uncle Mo, and possibly Dialed In rate above him. They both have not run 2 turns in the impressive fashion we witnessed in The Fountain of Youth. Soldat is ahead of both of them at this point in time. Dismiss him at your own peril. If the track turns up off, like so many Kentucky Derby's do, plan on seeing Soldat as a VERY big player in the race. This horse simply skips over a wet surface. Do not dismiss him.
mike More than 1 year ago
THAS didn't look good at all. For a horse that is considered in the top 3 by most people, that is a terrible performance. This field was not full of great 3 yr olds either. I almost have to take him off my chances of winning the Derby after that. Unless he can rebound big, Uncle Mo is far ahead of him right now. Soldat was not that impressive in this win. A Beyer figure in the 90s is nothing great for a horse going into the Derby. He ran better on a sloppy track I think.