Updated on 09/17/2011 9:55PM

New barn, same distance questions

High Fly, the likely favorite in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, schools at the gate Thursday at Palm Meadows.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - High Fly will have a new trainer and a new rider for Saturday's $300,000 , but he'll still have to run the same distance that may have proved his undoing when he suffered his first defeat last month in the Holy Bull Stakes.

Despite his third-place finish as the odds-on favorite in the Holy Bull, High Fly is expected to go postward as the favorite in the Fountain of Youth, and he is still the one to beat. Because of the configuration of Gulfstream Park's new racetrack, the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth will be decided at 1 1/8 miles for the first time in its 59-year history. The race serves as the final major prep for Gulfstream's marquee race, the $1 million Florida Derby on April 2.

The Fountain of Youth is the feature event on Saturday's outstanding 12-race program. The card has four other Grade 2 races, including the seven-furlong Swale, which could also have Florida Derby implications. The $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap, $150,000 Bonnie Miss, and $150,000 Forward Gal round out the stakes lineup.

A field of 11 3-year-olds was entered for the Fountain of Youth, although trainer Ken McPeek said he was leaning toward scratching Kansas City Boy, who drew post 2. Rick Violette was considering a similar course of action after Dearest Mon drew post 10.

High Fly, who drew post 7, was transferred from trainer Bill White to Nick Zito after his third-place finish in the Holy Bull. A son of Atticus, High Fly was an easy winner of his first three starts, including the one-mile Aventura Stakes here earlier in the meeting. However, he got hung wide throughout the Holy Bull and was unable to kick past either Closing Argument or Kansas City Boy through the stretch.

"He's trained very well since I've had him or I wouldn't be running him in this race, but there's still the question of whether he wants to go a mile and one-eighth or beyond," said Zito. "But we've still got to take that chance and find out where we stand."

Jerry Bailey will replace Eddie Castro, who was aboard High Fly for each of his first four starts.

Unlike High Fly, Bandini is a proven commodity at nine furlongs, having registered an easy nine-length allowance victory on Feb. 5 in his first two-turn start. The win was the second straight for Bandini, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus who won his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths here Jan. 6.

"He's still a lightly raced horse who has come a long way in a short period of time," said Bandini's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "He's moving in the right direction. I'm hoping he'll be able to progress even more."

If he starts, Kansas City Boy will run coupled with stablemate Wild Desert. But McPeek said minutes after the post-position draw that he was leaning toward running Kansas City Boy, the Holy Bull runner-up, in the Louisiana Derby the following weekend.

"I just don't think he relaxes real well down on the inside," McPeek said.

B. B. Best could prove the one to catch from the rail as he stretches out off a fourth-place finish in the six-furlong Sunshine Millions Dash. In his two previous starts around two turns, B. B. Best led throughout to capture Calder's In Reality Stakes and finished a tiring fourth following an eventful start in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Park Avenue Ball won Belmont's Grade 2 Futurity at a mile and was runner-up to Proud Accolade in the Grade 2 Hutcheson at 7 1/2 furlongs earlier in the meet, and the Fountain of Youth will be his first two-turn start.

Papi Chullo is the only maiden in the field but did finish second, beaten one length by Going Wild, in Santa Anita's Sham Stakes at nine furlongs on Feb. 5. Papi Chullo earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure in that race.

The field

Fountain of Youth
Purse: Grade 2; $300,000; 1 1/8 miles

1B. B. BestJ. Chavez12020-1
2a-Kansas City BoyB. Blanc1168-1
3General John BJ. Santos12015-1
4Park Avenue BallJ. Castellano12010-1
5Papi ChulloR. Baze1168-1
6DeferC. Velasquez12010-1
7High FlyJ. Bailey1208-5
8BandiniJ. Velazquez1162-1
9a-Wild DesertP. Day1168-1
10Dearest MonR. Dominguez11620-1
11Natural PhenomenonE. Coa11620-1

* (a)-coupled: Kansas City Boy and Wild Desert
* Odds by Art Gropper
* Television: Saturday, 5-6 p.m. (Eastern), ABC