Updated on 09/17/2011 8:54PM

Top billing may not belong to Fountain of Youth


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes is traditionally one of the most important early-season and the main event on Saturday's program at Gulfstream Park, which offers five Grade 2 stakes. But even a race as prestigious as the Fountain of Youth could end up being overshadowed Saturday by the seven-furlong Swale Stakes - which showcases the spectacular Lost in the Fog - and the Swale's filly counterpart, the Forward Gal, which features an outstanding field led by the undefeated and untested Maddalena.

The and the $150,000 Swale are for 3-year-olds, and the $150,000 Forward Gal and $150,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes are for 3-year-old fillies. The $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap for older horses is also in the stakes lineup on a card that track officials are billing as Spectacular Saturday III.

The Fountain of Youth is the final major prep for the $1 million Florida Derby on April 2, and will be run at 1 1/8 miles for the first time, a sixteenth of a mile farther than in years past. A field of 11 is expected to enter, led by High Fly, Bandini, and Kansas City Boy.

High Fly will likely be the favorite despite coming off a third-place finish as the 3-5 choice in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 5. A son of Atticus, High Fly was subsequently transferred from trainer Bill White to Nick Zito. Jerry Bailey, who won the 2004 Fountain of Youth aboard Read the Footnotes, will replace Eddie Castro Jr. in the saddle.

Bandini has two easy victories here this winter, including a nine-length first-level allowance win when sent 1 1/8 miles for the first time on Feb. 5. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Bandini - a son of Fuasaichi Pegasus - will again be ridden by John Velazquez.

Kansas City Boy finished second, a half-length in front of High Fly, after setting a contested pace in the Holy Bull. He is one of two horses trainer Ken McPeek plans to enter in the Fountain of Youth, along with Wild Desert. Kansas City Boy could be scratched in favor of next week's Louisiana Derby if he draws an inside post. Brice Blanc again has the call on Kansas City Boy while Pat Day will ride Wild Desert.

The remainder of the prospective lineup figures to include Defer (Cornelio Velasquez), B. B. Best (Jorge Chavez), Park Avenue Ball (Javier Castellano), Dearest Mon (Ramon Dominguez), General John B (Jose Santos), Papi Chullo (Russell Baze), and Natural Phenomenon (Eibar Coa).

Lost in the Fog figures to be an odds-on favorite in the Swale, having won his first three starts by an average margin of nine lengths while earning triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in each start. He has the benefit of a race over the track, dominating the Sunshine Millions Dash in a 4 1/2-length win on Jan. 29.

Trainer Greg Gilchrist said Lost in the Fog would be nominated to the Triple Crown and could remain here for the Florida Derby if he runs another big race in the Swale. Baze again has the mount.

Despite the imposing presence of Lost in the Fog, a large field is shaping up for the Swale. Among potential entrants are Around the Cape (Coa), B Trick (Greg Bacchas), Chandtrue (Chavez), Evil Minister (Bailey), More Smoke (Clinton Potts), Port Town (Cornelio Velasquez), Santana Strings (John Velazquez), Straight Line (Blanc), United (Dominguez), and Whats Up Dude (Santos).

Maddalena's form nearly mirrors that of Lost In the Fog. She, too, has easily won all three of her starts with her last two victories producing triple-digit Beyers. She has won twice over the track, including a 7 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Old Hat on Feb. 5.

Maddalena will get her stiffest test to date in the Forward Gal with the competition to be led by the undefeated Letgomyecho, Sunshine Million stakes winner Hot Storm, Little Money Down, and possibly Bird Harbor.

A field of six is shaping up for the Bonnie Miss, led by In the Gold and Pleasant Chimes, while seven horses are pointing for the Gulfstream Park Handicap, including likely favorites Classic Endeavor, Contante, and Eddington.