02/13/2010 12:00AM

Fountain, Risen Star compete for same horses


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The decision by Fair Grounds to rearrange its stakes schedule and push the Louisiana Derby back to March 27 did much more than simply motivate Gulfstream management to move the Grade 1 Florida Derby up a week to March 20 to avoid a potential head-to-head conflict between the two races. It has also put both tracks in competition for the plethora of outstanding 3-year-olds stabled in south Florida this winter. This is true not only for the Florida and Louisiana derbies but also for next Saturday's preps, the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream and the Grade 3 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, as well.

The field for the Fountain of Youth is shaping up as a strong one with Jackson Bend, Buddy's Saint, Eskendereya, Aikenite, and Pulsion all but confirmed to run. But the race could lose as many as three potential starters to the Risen Star, with the connections of William's Kitten, Drosselmeyer, and Tempted to Tapit all currently leaning towards New Orleans.

Trainer Mike Maker said William's Kitten, a late-running third behind Winslow Homer and Jackson Bend in the one-mile Holy Bull, would skip the 1 1/18-mile Fountain of Youth.

"We're out of the Fountain of Youth," said Maker. "We still might go to the Risen Star since the track there is more conducive to his style of running and should be more to his liking."

Racing secretary Dan Bork said Elliott Walden, racing manager for WinStar Farm, told him Saturday that no definite decision has been made regarding Drosselmeyer but that the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star was currently the more likely option. Drosselmeyer, an impressive allowance winner here earlier in the meet for trainer Bill Mott, was scheduled to work at Payson Park on Sunday.

Jackson Bend indicated his readiness for the Fountain of Youth by working four furlongs in 47 seconds at Palm Meadows on Saturday for trainer Nick Zito. The trial was the fastest of 42 half-mile works on the tab. Positive Split also solidified his spot for the Fountain of Youth by drilling a crisp five eighths in 1:00 over a muddy strip at Gulfstream.

Other notable 3-year-old workers in the area on Saturday were Zito's pair of Ice Box and Thomas Got Even, who posted identical black-letter five-furlong breezes in 1:01 at Palm Meadows, and Positive Split's stablemate Noble's Promise, who zipped a half in 46.50 at Gulfstream.

Noble's Promise, idle since his third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and Positive Split are both trained by Ken McPeek.

Furthest Land back in Florida, headed to Dubai

Maker reported that Breeders' Cup winner Furthest Land has returned to south Florida from California following his fifth-place finish in last Sunday's Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita. Furthest Land rallied from well back to finish less than a length behind the winner, Richard's Kid.

"He had a wide trip and got beat less than a length," said Maker. "He ran his race, he just didn't get paid for it."

Maker said Furthest Land's next start would come in Dubai, either in the Godolphin Mile or the Dubai World Cup.

"He's been invited to both races, we just haven't decided which one will point for yet," said Maker.

* Friday night's heavy rains forced management to take all four scheduled turf races on Saturday's card off the grass, leading to a total of 38 scratches on the 10-race program. The eighth race was completely decimated with 11 of the 16 horses originally entered taken out at scratch time.