03/14/2012 8:45AM

Meadowlands: Fountainbleau Volo already a winner for Dauplaise entering Friday's Horse & Groom


“We were in the right place at the right time,” said trainer-owner Jeff Dauplaise about his good fortune this past December.

Stabled at Showplace Farms in New Jersey, Dauplaise was lucky enough to find out that a 3-year-old trotter was for sale. “We heard that Fountainbleau Volo was available,” he said. “We went up to Yonkers to watch him race" - he won - "and we bought the horse.”

While Dauplaise wasn’t willing to speak of the exact price for the son of S Js Caviar, he did say that he and co-owner MendyTaffel made a six-figure purchase.

In these days whenit is so difficult to come up with any racehorse with potential, Dauplaise considers himself fortunate to have found a horse that could be a budding star in the aged trotting ranks. Entering Friday’s $82,000 Horse & Groom final at New Meadowlands, Fountainbleau Volo appears well on his way to returning a good portion of his sales price within three months of the purchase.

“I’d have to say that he’s lived up to our expectations and more,” said Dauplaise, who trains a seven-horse stable and is looking to upgrade.

Fountainbleau Volo has captured both preliminary legs of the series with catch-driver Dave Miller in the sulky. Last week, despite racing into high winds in the homestretch, the 4-year-old blistered a 1:53 1/5 mile, making him one of the fastest trotters to race this season. Dauplaise was quick to deflect superstar status, offering this ancient axiom: “Time only counts when you’re in jail.”

For Taffel, who was a longtime supporter of Jeff’s late father, Norman Dauplaise, and enjoyed great success at the Meadowlands with the top trotter Delmonico, the return to the big time is sweet. Dauplaise has nominated the horse for some of the more prestigious races down the road, but didn’t make him eligible to the Nat Ray or Breeders Crown.

“He’s not that big of a horse, and I think in order to race against the San Pails and Arch Madnesses you have to have staying power,” he said.

But at this point, Fountainbleau Volo has shown speed and versatility. He won from post 10 in the first round of the series. Dauplaise believes that the horse is better coming from off the pace but seems as solid on the front end.

“David [Miller] really likes this horse,” said Dauplaise.

When Dauplaise first purchased the horse in December, he raced twice at Yonkers and broke in both starts. Considering the horse had won a few times at Yonkers, the breaks were puzzling, but Dauplaise didn’t seem very concerned.

“I think he’ll get around a half-mile track just fine," he said. "We tried something different and it didn’t work.”

Despite the lofty purses at Yonkers, Dauplaise suggested that following Friday’s series final he’ll give Fountainbleau Volo a well-earned two-week vacation. Then he will likely return to Meadowlands or perhaps Chester Downs, where the horse raced competitively last year for former owner-trainer Anette Lorentzon.

Dauplaise believes that caretaker Pam Baillie has made a huge difference in keeping Fountainbleau Volo at the top of his game. How high the top will be for the horse is anybody’s guess. As far as this Friday is concerned, Dauplaise is far from counting the money. He sees second round winner Here Comes Numbers as a serious threat.

“He trotted home in 54 and change and looked pretty good doing it for Brian Sears,” said the trainer.

Another serious threat in Friday’s Horse & Groom showdown is Ice Machine. Trainer Walt Carroll has done a superb job with this horse, who captured the first leg and then was severely hampered in second round action from post 10.

The draw was kind to Fountainbleau Volo for Friday’s fifth event at the Meadowlands. He will start from post 2, directly inside of Here Comes Numbers. Ice Machine was not so fortunate and will once again have to overcome post 10. The 4-year-old by Muscles Yankee picks up Yannick Gingras in the bike for the first time.

Also in the talent-laden group is Marcus Bi. A solid winner racing without cover in last week’s leg, Marcus Bi landed post 9 with Dan Dube in the bike. First round winner Definitely Maybe, one of two mares in the field of 10, drew post 5.

The $37,000 Syrinx Hanover final is the co-feature on Friday’s program with first round winners Miss Chip K and Funny Fashion drawing posts 8 and 9, respectively. The race is for 3-year-old filly trotters.

Post time for the 11-race card is 7 p.m.