02/03/2010 1:00AM

Fountain of Youth loses prospects

Barbara D. Livingston
Winslow Homer, with Carol Fisher aboard Monday at Palm Meadows, will miss the Fountain of Youth. It was discovered later in the day that he has a stress fracture to a cannon bone.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The Grade 2 Fountain of Youth lost a pair of potential prospects earlier this week after Winslow Homer and Piscitelli were both found to have injuries that will keep them sidelined at least through the spring.

Both Winslow Homer and Piscitelli made their 3-year-old debuts in the Grade 3 Holy Bull here Jan. 23. Winslow Homer rallied to defeat Jackson Bend by three-quarters of a length in the one-mile Holy Bull, while Piscitelli briefly forced the pace before being eased to the wire last in the field of nine, 18 lengths behind the winner.

Trainer Anthony Dutrow confirmed that Winslow Homer has a stress fracture in his cannon bone. The injury was discovered Monday. A son of Unbridled's Song owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms, Winslow Homer was scheduled to leave Friday for the Rood and Riddle Clinic in Lexington, Ky., where he'll undergo surgery to be performed by Dr. Larry Bramlage.

"He'll be without a saddle for 60 to 90 days," Dutrow said. "Dr. Bramlage said to expect a full recovery, but we will be forced to miss the spring races."

The injury to Winslow Homer, who had been considered among the leading Kentucky Derby candidates following his victory in the Holy Bull, puts an end to the possibility of a much-anticipated rematch with Jackson Bend in the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth on Feb. 20.

Piscitelli was weighted seventh on this year's Experimental Free Handicap based on his performances as a 2-year-old in 2009. Piscitelli finished a fast-closing third in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity and fourth, beaten less than a length by Vale of York, after setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

According to Rick Sacco, who trains Piscitelli for owner William Schettine, jockey Kent Desormeaux felt something was wrong about three furlongs into the Holy Bull, at which point he eased Piscitelli out of the race. A subsequent bone scan revealed a deep bone bruise at the bottom of the colt's right hind cannon bone.

"The prognosis for soundness and a full recovery is excellent, and we are thankful that we will have an opportunity to race this talented colt again in the future," Sacco said.

Despite the loss of Winslow Homer and Piscitelli, the Fountain of Youth is shaping up as an important race and is expected to attract a field that will include Jackson Bend, Buddy's Saint, and Eskendereya. The Fountain of Youth serves as a prep for Gulfstream's marquee race, the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 20.

Noble's Promise, another of the top-rated Kentucky Derby prospects on the grounds at Gulfstream Park, will not make the Fountain of Youth. Noble's Promise, who has not started since finishing third in the BC Juvenile, and his stablemate Beautician, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, both arrived from Southern California last week.

"I followed a similar pattern with both 3-year-olds as I had with horses like Repent and Take Charge Lady, which was just to give them a month off to let them catch their breath," trainer Ken McPeek said. "I have nothing specific picked out for either horse at the moment, although I hope to have them back in the entries sometime in March."

McPeek does have a candidate for the Fountain of Youth - Positive Split, a son of Repent who finished third in a fairly loaded first-level allowance race on Jan. 18.

"He got a little washy and just didn't handle things well that day," McPeek said. "I think he's better than what he showed in that race."