02/22/2015 2:15PM

Road to Derby analysis: Fountain of Youth

Barbara D. Livingston
Itsaknockout was elevated to first by the stewards in the Fountain of Youth.

Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Gulfstream, Feb. 21, 2015

 (50 Derby qualifying points for a win, 20 for second, 10 for third, 5 for fourth)

 Winner: Itsaknockout

 Trainer: Todd Pletcher

 Jockey: Luis Saez

 Owner: Starlight Racing

 Beyer Speed Figure: 95

 This was one of the strangest Kentucky Derby preps in years, with FROSTED looking like he couldn’t lose at the quarter pole only to finish fourth, UPSTART crossing the wire first, and then the stewards making a much-debated decision to disqualify Upstart in favor of runner-up ITSAKNOCKOUT.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

 That the race produced a Beyer Speed Figure of 95 despite the final time of 1:46.28 for 1 1/16 miles is an indication of just how slow the track was playing. The Fountain of Youth was the lone two-turn dirt race of the day. It also was run 1 hour and 34 minutes after the previous dirt race, the Davona Dale, a one-turn mile for 3-year-old fillies, in which the final quarter-mile was run in 27.01 seconds. There were two grass races between the Davona Dale and the Fountain of Youth. It was a dry, often-windy day, with low humidity, and even though the track was being watered with regularity, it obviously was dry and tiring.

 ITSAKNOCKOUT, placed first, was making his stakes debut and first start around two turns. He was in the second flight of horses during the run down the backstretch while racing between JUAN AND BINA and Upstart. As the field went around the far turn, he had trouble keeping pace with Upstart, who moved nearly three lengths clear of Itsaknockout. But Itsaknockout kept plugging away. He was a bit late to change leads in upper stretch, got to Upstart’s flank, and then the bumping occurred that the stewards ruled impacted the order of finish. Itsaknockout and Upstart definitely bumped in upper stretch, not long after Frosted initiated contact with Upstart. Upstart then continued to drift in front of Itsaknockout, but the question is whether Itsaknockout was empty by then and would have finished second anyway. The stewards thought otherwise. I’m not as certain.

Upstart was three paths wide on the first turn and fell into a good spot down the backstretch, in the clear outside two rivals while chasing two dueling leaders. He was asked aggressively to go after the leaders on the far turn and left eventual winner Itsaknockout, but he wasn’t accelerating as sharply as he did in the Holy Bull. The dry track probably had something to do with it. It also could be that everyone was spent after a third quarter-mile in 23.78 seconds, which might have taken the starch out of everyone near the front. Upstart was a little late with his lead change, got past Frosted despite being bumped in his hindquarters, bumped with Itsaknockout, then drifted out under left-handed whipping from jockey Jose Ortiz, but appeared to be coming away from Itsaknockout at the wire. He was disqualified from first to second.

 FRAMMENTO, who finished third, remained on the rail for much of the race, then finished fastest of all through the lane after being angled out. It’s hard to evaluate his performance, since all the horses who were near the lead were obviously exhausted at the race’s end.

Frosted, who wound up fourth, ran a baffling race. Outfitted with blinkers, he was into the race early and was lapped on leader BLUEGRASS SINGER heading down the backstretch after racing three paths wide on the first turn. He appeared to cruise to the front effortlessly on the final turn and looked like he was headed for certain victory. But between the quarter pole and the three-sixteenths pole he started to decelerate noticeably, and had no fight when challenged. He drifted out into Upstart in upper stretch, and steadily faded in a race that ended at an earlier finish line than normal, owing to the race distance.

 GORGEOUS BIRD raced in the clear in sixth in the field of eight during the run down the backstretch but never leveled off at any point, yet was beaten only seven lengths while finishing fifth despite never getting involved.

Bluegrass Singer went to the lead from his inside draw, was no match for Frosted when Frosted went for the lead with three furlongs remaining, then tired to finish sixth. He was on the rail for much of the race, and Frosted wound up on the rail in the stretch. Combined with the position of winners in most of the main track races, it’s not inconceivable that, in addition to the track being tiring, the rail might not have been the best spot on that track.

 Juan and Bina raced on the rail behind the leaders, came under a hard ride with three furlongs to go, and faded to finish seventh.

DANNY BOY, who finished last of eight, was three paths wide entering the first turn, was taken to the rail soon thereafter, and was at or near the back of the pack the rest of the way.



Ian GW More than 1 year ago
I like a horse like Gorgeous Bird. I don't want to peak now. I got him in futures.
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
Why would anyone complain about a track that is slower and has more cushion than last years track ? Why do you want a hard compact track that causes more injuries ? Wasnt it painful to see top billing run today ? The big longshot frammento didnt look tired. He looked fast because the others arent that good. Dont try to sell me on that hogwash about the track was so much slower two hours later.
Kelsey More than 1 year ago
Obviously these guys were going up, down and sideways visually in the stretch of the FOY. Yet the winning Beyer is a 95. Oh it's the track, it's the time between races, blah blah blah. Yet California Chrome wins the KY Derby in a hand ride with ears pricked and the race was over at the top of the lane, yet he was not afforded any recognition, not saying by this author, but from the Beyer camp, as evidence by only a 95 Beyer for the race. Heck, Beyer didn't pick CC in his top 3 for the Preakness.
gary Potter More than 1 year ago
do you realize that Beyer numbers are from a system and formula that leaves out personal bias? Why do so many of you Chrome fans continue to Whine so much?
Ron Rios More than 1 year ago
How about forgetting the beyers figures stop acting as if its means something, if someone was using beyers at gulf stream yesterday you would have one winner main sequence, thanks beyers couldn't figure that one out….
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the track has been very loose. Check out the fractions and final times of all races. There are a lot of races that only go in 24/48/140/146 All of the horses were struggling on it. Same could be said for all horses over the past 2 weeks. I would not write off this group. Lets put it this way. Do you look your best running on pavement or in 3 feet of snow. Let us all know what you are betting and we will make sure to avoid that pick.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
edb More than 1 year ago
Haven't seen a wonder horse yet. It is Feb. and no need for a 110 Beyer now. I think Upstart has a derby shot. P.S. over 40 years of watching and betting races, like that means something. Just keep them healthy. Who do like in the futures?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been around since 1958 watching races "JUNIOR" Your arrogance precedes you. You remind me a lot of SHAM's trainer in the movie Secretariat and we all know how that turned out. No need to yell with the caps. that just shows how emotionally stunted you are. Upstart does have a shot because lets face it. Nothing has yet to jump up to say he is the horse to beat yet. Upstart still has upside. So Russell get out of your mother's basement and get some sunshine. It's good for your mind. One last question. Who do you say is the real deal of all the 3 yr old contenders? Yeah I thought so. Nothing!!! Remember when Secretariat seemed to have hit a wall and was no longer invincible? They made a bit change because Big Red had an issue with it. Look how that turned out. PS Please don't use CAPS!!!