Updated on 09/16/2011 6:51AM

Deja vu in Fountain of Youth

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Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Booklet, on the rail, just holds off Harlan's Holiday in the Fountain of Youth. They will meet again next month in the $1 million Florida Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In a race that played out like a carbon copy of last month's Holy Bull Stakes, Booklet held off Harlan's Holiday after a spirited stretch duel to take Saturday's $200,000 * at Gulfstream Park.

The Fountain of Youth, like the Holy Bull at 1 1/16 miles, saw Booklet dart off to a clear lead early, forcing Harlan's Holiday to try to catch him. He almost did, but Booklet held on bravely to win by a nose.

Blue Burner, an 8-1 shot, rallied to finish third, five lengths behind Harlan's Holiday. The biggest disappointment in the race, from a wagering perspective, was Stephentown, who was bet down to the 5-2 second choice and faltered to finish sixth in the field of eight.

Because of the action on Stephentown, Booklet went off at 5-1 and paid $12.40 to win.

Booklet was timed in 1:44.49 for 1 1/16 miles on a track that was rated fast despite rain showers earlier in the day. The victory was the sixth in seven starts for Booklet, who is

2 for 2 since being acquired by last year's winning Kentucky Derby team, owner John Oxley and trainer John Ward Jr. The 3-year-old colt is by Notebook.

The Fountain of Youth, the first Grade 1 race of the year for 3-year-olds, is a prep for next month's Florida Derby, and is a significant stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Oxley and Ward completed the Derby team on Saturday by putting jockey Jorge Chavez - who rode Monarchos to victory in last year's Kentucky Derby - on Booklet for the first time.

Booklet broke "a half-length slow," according to Chavez, but used his natural speed to grab a 2 1/2-length lead after an opening quarter-mile in 22.98 seconds. His advantage narrowed to a half-length at the top of the stretch, but he quickly kicked away from Political Attack and opened a two-length lead a furlong out.

Harlan's Holiday, forced to rally three lanes wide on the far turn under jockey Tony D'Amico, closed furiously, but Booklet dug in and would not be denied. "He loves to fight," Chavez said. "He didn't want to get beat."

Asked to pick one word to describe Booklet, Oxley called the colt "tenacious."

Both Booklet and Harlan's Holiday have dominated the 3-year-old scene here this winter, but the margin between the two is narrowing. Booklet prevailed by three-quarters of a length in the Holy Bull. Harlan's Holiday, who was 2-1 in the Fountain of Youth, has been favored in both races, but has lost both.

"I hate to see him run that hard and get beat a short amount," said a disappointed Ken McPeek, the trainer of Harlan's Holiday.

Both Ward and McPeek said they anticipated running their colts in four weeks in the Florida Derby.

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