This Saturday will mark another level that will separate who the legitimate contenders for the Kentucky Derby are and which ones will fall by the wayside. That is because Gulfstream Park will host the 74th running of the Fountain of Youth Stakes, which is Grade II prep for the Florida Derby. This year features a small but dicey field of six. The horse with the target on his back will be coming out of post 6. That horse Mohaymen, a big grey good-looking colt out of the Tapit line. Purchased as a yearling in the September Keenland sale Mohaymen was bought by Shadwell Stables for $2.2 million dollars. So far the son of the dam, Justwhisledixie (Dixie Union) has exceeded or at least met expectations. In his short four-race career, he has gone off as the favorite and won all his races.
His running style has been nothing short of professional. To date, he has never been too far off of a pace and whenever he has been asked, he gets down to business. He already has a distance race of a mile and 1/8th under his belt, which happened to be the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. In that race he displayed a level of grittiness by splitting horses when asked to that the lead down the stretch. In is last race – The Holy Bull Stakes, which happened to be his first as a three-year-old, he showed an impressive finishing kick by drawing off to win by 3 ½ lengths. Nevertheless every race leading up to the Kentucky Derby is wrought with questions and a sup-par performance could become a debilitating letdown. For Mohaymen this will be his forth Grade II and people will be looking to see if he is ready to take the next step to being the favorite going into the spring.
The main test Mohaymen will face may come from the post directly to his left. Coming out of post 5 is Awesome Banner who is also undefeated in three career starts, however these were all sprints. The talented Florida bred colt is trained by Stanley Gold, who also trained Jackson Bend to flirt with Triple Crown potential while also going on to have a very successful career as a sprinter.
Awesome Banner’s last race was the Grade II Swale Stakes. His previous win was the Grade III Hutchenson Stakes. Both wins were visually impressive, however the questions that remain up until post-time will be if he wants to run two-turns and if he can handle the distance.
To his left is another awesome horse – Awesome Speed, who is also out of the Awesome Again sire line. Although this horse has yet to face Grade II competition has won his last three races, two of which were overnight stakes. Two of those three races were up at Laurel Park in Maryland but the third was down at Gulfstream on January 6th. That race was the $100K Mucho Macho Man Stakes. The Mucho Macho Man Stakes is run at a mile, but it is only a one-turn race so again the question for Awesome Speed will be whether he wants to stretch out in distance and go two-turns.
The last interesting horse to watch here will be Zulu coming out of post 2. Zulu is the son of Bernardini and was purchased by Stonestreet Stables for $900K. In his brief career, he is two for two, which happened to be good enough to get him on the second Derby futures pool. Obviously this horse has shown potential even before he was entered into the gate, however he too will have questions to answer. In both of his races Zulu has run on a wet or sloppy track, so again backers will have to use his morning workouts and breeding to gauge whether his first two races were better because he ran on a sloppy track or if this horse is that good.
Two other local horses complete the field, (1) Fellowship and (3) Golden Ray.
Post time for the Fountain of Youth is scheduled for 5:30 PM EST.