The feature race at Gulfstream Park this Saturday is the $300,000 dollar, Grade 2, Fountain Of Youth Stakes. Some of the top 3-year-olds in the country will do battle in this 1 1/16-mile contest.
As well as the Winners share of the purse, the first to cross the wire will also collect 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
Here, the Daily Racing Blog takes a look at some of our favorite horses who have claimed Victory in the Fountain Of Youth.
SPECTACULAR BID (1979) Considered one of the all-time great horses. He was voted the champion 2-year-old of 1978, after Winning five Stakes races. SPECTULAR BID had little trouble on the rest of the Derby trail. He won his next three preps by a combined 23 ½ lengths. After similarly easy Victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, a Triple Crown seemed like a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, a tough trip near a fast pace in the Belmont Stakes caused him to fade to 3rd. Although he Won two more Graded stakes as a 3-year-old, it was as a 4-year-old that he established his place as a racing immortal. He was a perfect 9-for-9, with the highlight being the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita. He Won that race by five lengths, and set a world record for 1 ¼ miles in 1:57 ⅘.
THUNDER GULCH (1995) Made his 3-year-old debut in the Fountain of Youth, which drew a field of 12 Derby aspirants. His jockey, Mike Smith rated him off a hotly contested pace, then moved to engage SUAVE PROSPECT at the top of the stretch. The two dueled throughout the stretch but THUNDER GULCH outdueled his rival to Win by a neck. A few weeks later in the Florida Derby the same duel played out again, as those two colts engaged in another stirring battle, with THUNDER GULCH prevailing by a nose this time. A dull 4th place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes spooked bettors going into the Derby. Smith jumped off to ride TALKIN MAN, and THUNDER GULCH, despite the Florida preps went off at 25-1. However, he bounced back when it counted. THUNDER GULCH Won the Derby by 2 ¼ lengths with Gary Stevens aboard. Later that year, he added the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes Wins to his résumé. He’s the only horse in the last 75 years to Win those three races.
ORB (2013) Heading into the 2013 Derby trail, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was still searching for his first Derby Win. He had saddled six starters, including the great EASY GOER in 1989, but had not yet worn the roses. Off two consecutive Wins at Aqueduct and Gulfstream, ORB made his Graded stakes debut in the Fountain of Youth. He dropped well off the early pace, while the heavily favored VIOLENCE rated off a fast tempo on the rail. As they rounded the final turn, VIOLENCE pounced on the leader while ORB remained about five lengths off the top, although he was rallying powerfully. In the stretch, VIOLENCE opened up a clear lead but ORB chased him down in the last sixteenth for a half-length Win. After another Win in the Florida Derby, ORB was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby. On a wet track with new jockey in Joel Rosario, he came from behind for a splashy 2 ½-length Win. It was the first Derby Winner for both Rosario and McGaughey.
CODE OF HONOR (2019) Six years later, Shug found himself back in the Fountain of Youth Winner’s Circle. CODE OF HONOR finished 2nd in the Champagne Stakes as a 2-year-old and then was given a break to keep him fresh for the Derby trail. In his 3-year-old debut, the Mucho Macho Stakes, he finished 4th as the 4-5 favorite. Off that performance, he was considered a 10-1 outsider for the Fountain of Youth. HIDDEN SCROLL was sent off as the 6-5 favorite, but he faded after setting the pace. Meanwhile, John Velazquez kept CODE OF HONOR in mid-pack, rode the rail most of the way, then angled him out in the stretch. He easily rolled by the tired HIDDEN SCROLL then held off a late rally by BOURBON WAR for a three-quarter-length Win. CODE OF HONOR of continued to be in top form the rest of the season. He finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby, then rattled off three straight Graded stakes Wins. He became the first horse to Win the Travers and the Jockey Club Gold Cup since SUMMER BIRD in 2009.