Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, was the site Saturday of the Fountain of Youth Stakes, where a second three-year-old thoroughbred would likely qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
The $300,000 stakes race was the second in the Championship Series on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Grade 2 contest awarded points on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Greatest Honour came into the race as the favorite on the heels of consecutive victories, the most recent in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on January 30. That was after a slow start to his career, with third-place finishes in his first two maiden races.
The other projected frontrunner in the Fountain of Youth was Fire At Will, making a transition from turf to dirt for the race. Fire At Will was coming off a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland on November 6, but the long layoff was a concern.
Drain the Clock was considered a serious contender, with four wins in five races but none of them coming in Derby qualifiers. The uncertainty around Drain the Clock was whether the step up in class would be too much for him to make a serious challenge.
The four horses that finished behind Greatest Honour in the Holy Bull were also in the field. Tarantino was near the lead the entire race, but was blown away down the stretch and was almost six lengths behind at the end. Prime Factor, Papetu and Jirafales were third through fifth and were looking for a better result in the Fountain of Youth.
Drain the Clock drains too much time
Drain the Clock started from the first post position and broke into the lead out of the starting gate. Starting in eighth position, Greatest Honour remained on the outside, off the pace in the tightly bunched field, while Fire At Will consistently faded after the 1/2-mile post.
At the 3/4-mile post, Greatest Honour began making a move, bringing Papetu with him, chasing down Drain the Clock and Tarantino. The four horses battled down the stretch, jockeying for position, with Greatest Honour continuing his surge on the outside.
Drain the Clock held his ground against Papetu and Tarantino, but Greatest Honour had too much at the end for all of them and prevailed by a length and a half. The other horses held their positions, with Jirafales unable to crack the top four despite a late run from ninth place to fifth.
Points and purse payouts
Greatest Honour paid $4.00, $2.60 and $2.20, won $176,000 and picked up the 50 qualifying points that went to the winner, giving him the lead in the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a total of 60. It will undoubtedly be enough to garner the Claude McGaughey III trained colt entry into the Kentucky Derby.
Drain the Clock was awarded $57,000, 20 points and paid $3.60 and $3.20. Papetu received $28,500 and 10 points, paying $5.60 at 18/1 odds. Tarantino finished out of the betting money in fourth but still got $14,250 and five qualifying points.
Gulfstream Park will host the Florida Derby on March 27 and many of the same horses are expected to be in the field. They'll be racing for points that will be awarded on a 100-40-20-10 scale, in addition to the expected purse of $1million.