02/21/2010 1:00AM

Eskendereya runs away and hides

Bob Coglianese
Eskendereya and John Velazquez pull away to an 8 1/2-length win in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A 3-year-old division lacking a breakout effort so far in 2010 got one on Saturday when Eskendereya walloped the highly regarded Jackson Bend and Buddy's Saint while turning in a tour de force performance in the at Gulfstream Park.

Eskendereya ($9.80), the third choice, turned back a bid by Jackson Bend going around the final turn and then bounded clear to win by 8 1/2 lengths under jockey John Velazquez. Jackson Bend, the 5-2 second choice, held on for second, three-quarters of a length in front of third-place Aikenite.

"We've never gotten to the bottom of him," Pletcher said. "He finishes very strong in all his works."

Buddy's Saint, the 9-5 favorite, was clobbered along the fence when heading into the first turn, moved up down the backstretch but then bottomed out, beating only early pacesetter Lost Aptitude, who stopped to finish last in the 10-horse field.

Eskendereya and Aikenite are trained by Todd Pletcher, who also won the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds with Discreetly Mine.

"That's the longest two minutes in sports, the stretch run there," Pletcher said after watching the race on a television at Oaklawn.

Eskendereya, a son of Giant's Causeway owned by Ahmad Zayat's Zayat Stables, has now won three times in five starts. He has won two straight at Gulfstream, and Pletcher said he would come back next month here in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.