First let's turn our attention to race six on the card, an allowance race on the turf with a money restriction, non-winners of $7,500 twice. It's a full field with plenty contenders who usually show up and finish, if not at the top of the field at least among the top three. The main threats according to the morning line are:
- Big Stick (7-2) a four time winner last year who just missed in his debut with a similar crowd on Jan. 24 at Gulfstream
- Baletti (4-1) who took five tries to break through the "non-winners of one" ranks
- Expansion (5-1) a five-time maiden who finished second and first by a head in his last two
The problem is all three close from either a stalking or closing position. The rest of the field only shows two possible candidates to take the lead Broad River (12-1) and Artic Cry (10-1) While both have toiled and won in allowance company their latest and perhaps best performances came against lower level claiming horses ($35,000 to $30,000 N3L), thus the prices.
We all know most grass races aren't won in wire-to-wire fashion, but sometimes horses who gain easy leads while clicking off 24 second quarters can either get really brave or lull the competition to sleep. I'm not thrilled with Bravo in the saddle on Broad River, but I believe he is worth a moderate win play. At the very least, he'll give you lots of action for your wager leading into the stretch.
I'll most likely box Broad River, Artic Cry and Expansion in an exacta, as well.
The feature, the Grade II, recently shortened, 1-mile Fountain of Youth should set up just the opposite of the sixth race - lots of speed setting up a strong closing run from the back of the pack. At least half of the 12-horse field should be within a length or two of the lead at the first two calls. This means a strong chance for a hotly contested pace going in under 44 seconds for the half and a sub-1:10 at three-quarters.
There are one of two scenarios that we'll all see at the three-quarter pole:
- a total implosion up front
- one or two horses maturing into their speed by gunning and holding
I'm betting on option number one. I really like Theregoesjojo and Beethoven to close strongly and pick up the pieces. Of the two, Beethoven intrigues me more. Trainer John Ward probably already has enough earnings to get into the Derby gate and didn't rush Beethoven back in his three-year debut (a fourth place finish in the Holy Bull). He's probably not fully cranked up for this race either, but will likely be presented with the proper pace to close stoutly into.
The only other option I see is Capt. Candyman Can sitting just behind the fast fractions while beating Beethoven and Theregoesjojo to the punch.
Unfortunately Notonthesamepage, Taqarub, Quality Road and This Ones for Phil have no graded earnings as of yet and have no room for error. All do their best work up front.
I fear most of my handicapper counterparts will fail to see the forest for the trees and take a sprinter with gaudy speed numbers. Of course, Gulfstream usually favors speed, so my analysis could end up looking silly, but I'll stick with the closers here.
Theregoejojo, Beethoven and Capt. Candyman Can will be part of a modest Pick 4 ticket that will look something like this: 4/7-11/2-7-9/7-8-9-10.