Fountain of Youth Stakes

Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) has assembled a talented field of eleven colts and will be the best Derby prep race that we have seen so far.  There are many horses in this field that could step up and win, but I feel that #4 Bourbon War (10/1), #7 Hidden Scroll (9/5), and #8 Global Campaign (10/1) have the best chances to put themselves on the Derby trail.  Bourbon War showed talent as a two-year-old after a maiden win and fourth in the Remsen Stakes, but has dramatically improved in his sophomore season.  In his season debut, he closed from off the pace and surged clear of the field to take an allowance race at this track and the distance by 2 ¼ lengths.  This will be a big step up for him, but he has been training steadily coming into this race and should continue to improve since this is his second start after a seven-week layoff.  Global Campaign is undefeated in two starts and has the perfect press the pace running style for his stakes debut at Gulfstream.  He won his debut in January by open lengths and then took an allowance by 2 ¼ lengths at this track and distance.  Watching the races, he had two very easy wins where he was in a league of his own at the end of both and gave no other horse a chance.  This shows me that we haven’t seen the best of this WinStar bred yet and he should handle the deeper competition well that he will face in the Fountain of Youth.  Everyone has been waiting to see Hidden Scroll run again after his dominant maiden victory on the Pegasus undercard.  He beat a field of 13 horses in a sloppy one-mile race by 14 lengths while being geared down in the stretch, which was not only visually impressive but had some of the best speed figures for the season so far.  Trainer Bill Mott has been high on this horse since day one, but there are a few things that make me skeptical about him.  This will be the first time that he will run two turns and with only one easy win under his belt you must wonder if he can withstand the pressure of several other speed horses on a dry track.  While this horse has a lot to prove, very few three-year-olds this season have shown that they can run really fast over a distance and Hidden Scroll is definitely one of those horses.  This race will be a challenge for him, but if he can pull out a win like he did in his maiden then this colt is something special and will be one of my top picks going into the Derby.  There are two other horses in this field already on the Derby trail who will be some of the favorites, and those are #5 Vekoma (7/2) and #6 Signalman (9/2).  Both horses have tremendous talent and I believe could have a shot at hitting the board, but I do not think that for this particular race they are win contenders.  Vekoma hasn’t run since his Nashua Stakes win in November and Signalman last won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in the same month.  Neither horse has been that much of a standout in workouts leading up to this race, and Signalman has only has five works in his layoff.  All this combined with trainers Ken McPeek’s 1 for 27 and George Weaver’s 0 for 8 win record for horses off a long layoff makes me think both horses are going to need this race from a fitness standpoint before they get back to top form.  Good luck to all connections!