02/24/2016 1:46PM

Gold on fence with Awesome Banner


Only a handful of challengers were entered on Wednesday to face Mohaymen on Saturday in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and the field could be even smaller by race day, because trainer Stanley Gold was contemplating whether to run both Awesome Banner and Fellowship, or merely go with Fellowship and re-route Awesome Banner to the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12.

He entered both colts – both sons of Awesome of Course, both owned by Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm – and he’ll have until Saturday afternoon to make up his mind. The pace of the race would be impacted by Awesome Banner, who has led from start to finish in three sprints, all at Gulfstream, including the Hutcheson Stakes and Swale Stakes. The Fountain of Youth – or the Tampa Bay Derby – would be his first try around two turns.

“He hasn’t shown me that he won’t stretch out,” Gold said Wednesday morning.

That’s not an issue with Fellowship, who finished third behind Mohaymen and Greenpointcrusader in last month’s Holy Bull. He has come back to work strongly, with a five-furlong drill in 58.60 seconds on Feb. 13 at Gulfstream that was the best of the morning.

“He’s been training really well,” Gold said.

Gold felt that Fellowship ran a race that was a bit “under the radar” in the Holy Bull.

“He was running, and obviously he wants to go long,” Gold said. “We’ll see if we can open up some eyes on Saturday, or disappear into the sunset.”

Fellowship has won twice in nine starts. His most recent win came in the In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Series at Gulfstream on Oct. 3. Since then, he was second in a pair of minor stakes at Gulfstream Park West, then, in his race prior to the Holy Bull, faded to fifth in the Mucho Macho Man after making a mid-race move.

“His running style isn’t the same as his working style,” Gold said. “He wants to settle and then run the last half-mile.

“In the Mucho Macho Man, that’s not how he wants to run. Now we just let him run his race. There was kind of a lazy pace in the Holy Bull, but I don’t expect a lazy pace this time.”

To be sure, Zulu – who is coming out of two sprints – should provide some pace, so too Awesome Speed, who is trying two turns for the first time. Mohaymen likes to be forwardly placed. But the biggest factor in whether Fellowship gets enough pace to run into could hinge on whether his stablemate runs.

Cherry Wine was not entered in the Fountain of Youth after spiking a temperature last night, said trainer Dale Romans.