02/23/2012 1:11PM

History Challenge: Gulfstream's Fountain of Youth full of legends

This horse is one of four Fountain of Youth winners who went on to win the Kentucky Derby (above) and a second Triple Crown race. Can you name them?

In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed at a site near what today is St. Augustine, Fla. Numerous biographies published later in the 16th century claimed that Ponce de Leon was in search of the fabled fountain of youth, spawning a legend that has survived five centuries.

Three hundred miles down the Florida coast in Hallandale, another seaside community, Ponce de Leon’s legendary trip is recalled each year with the running of the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The race will be contested Sunday for the 66th time.

The Fountain of Youth, which returns to the distance of 1 1/16 miles this season, is closely watched because it is a major prep for the Florida Derby at Gulfstream on March 31 and the Kentucky Derby five weeks later.

First run in 1945, the Fountain of Youth is seven years older than the Florida Derby. (A race called the Florida Derby was first run at Tampa Downs – now Tampa Bay Downs – in 1926. The event was moved to Hialeah in 1929 and renamed the Flamingo Stakes in 1937.)

Test your knowledge of the Fountain of Youth.

1. The early years of the Fountain of Youth Stakes were unremarkable. The race was not run in 1946. In 1947 it was run at the beginning of the year for 3-year-olds at one mile and 70 yards and at the end of the year for 2-year-olds at six furlongs. It was not contested again in 1948 and 1952.

The first Fountain of Youth to have a major impact on the national scene came in 1956, when Fabius finished third in the race. He went on to win the Preakness Stakes and deny two-time champion Needles the Triple Crown.
The following season, Calumet Farm ran a powerful three-horse entry in the Fountain of Youth. Name the three horses.

2. Gulfstream Park played second fiddle to its neighbor, Hialeah, the grande dame of American racetracks, until the two tracks began their infamous battles over the coveted midwinter racing dates in the 1970’s.

Despite its early disadvantage, Gulfstream Park held its own when it came to producing winners of the 3-year-old classics.

Dark Star, unplaced in the 1953 Florida Derby, scored one of the century’s greatest upsets when he bested previously unbeaten Native Dancer in the Kentucky Derby.

Later that decade, this colt became the first to win both the Fountain of Youth and Kentucky Derby. Name him.

3. The fifth horse to compete in the Fountain of Youth and win the Kentucky Derby was a participant in a series of unusual events.

First, this bay colt finished second in the Fountain of Youth, only to be disqualified and placed fourth. He came back 10 days later to take down the Florida Derby, drawing away from the field at the end.

He scored an even easier victory in his next start, the Blue Grass Stakes. As the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, he did something no horse has ever done before or since. Name him.

4. This gray colt finished his career with 13 wins in 16 lifetime starts. He was voted Horse of the Year and later was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame. He entered the starting gate for the Fountain of Youth Stakes undefeated in five starts and was favored at 7-5. Inexplicably, he showed speed but dropped back to last, beaten more than 24 lengths by the previous year’s 2-year-old male champion. Second in the race was a horse who would go on to win the Kentucky Derby. Name all three horses.

5. The Breeders’ Cup Classic, the richest race in America, has been contested 28 times since its inception in 1984 and been won by a 3-year-old nine times.

Three of the nine 3-year-old winners competed in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. One of them won the race, another finished second, and another came in third. Name the three.

Get the answers HERE.