Horse Racing

2024 Fountain of Youth Stakes Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

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2024 Fountain of Youth Stakes Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

The Fountain of Youth (G2), the penultimate race on the south Florida spur of the Kentucky Derby trail, happens March 2 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. The 1 1/16-mile race offers a $400,000 purse as well as Road to the Kentucky Derby points (50-25-15-10-5) to its first five finishers. The race is not only the final local prep for the Florida Derby (G1) on March 30 but also virtually guarantees its winner a ticket to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

The race, named for the mythical Florida spring bringing eternal youth to those who drink from it, drew a field of nine exciting three-year-olds. The leaders include a pair of horses making their three-year-old debuts after marking themselves as top-notch juveniles. Grade 1 winner Locked starts for the first time since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Dornoch, a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage, also races for the first time since nosing out Risen Star (G2) winner Sierra Leone in the Remsen (G2).

This race has a long history of producing important Kentucky Derby prospects. Orb (2013) is the most recent Fountain of Youth winner to take the roses as well. Others who have parlayed Fountain of Youth success into Kentucky Derby wins include Tim Tam (1958), Kauai King (1966), Spectacular Bid (1979), and Thunder Gulch (1995).

Fountain of Youth Stakes Information

  • Race Date: Saturday, March 2, 2024
  • Track: Gulfstream Park
  • Post Time: 6:10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
  • Distance: 1 1/16 miles
  • Age/Sex: three-year-olds
  • Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
  • Where to Bet: and FanDuel Racing

Fountain of Youth Stakes Odds

This is the field for the Fountain of Youth Stakes. It includes post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds for each contender.

1Speak EasyTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr.9-2
2Le Dom BroEniel CorderoEdwin Gonzalez30-1
3Victory AvenueGustavo DelgadoJohn Velazquez4-1
4Real MachoRohan CrichtonTyler Gaffalione8-1
5DornochDanny GarganLuis Saez2-1
6MeritSaffie Joseph, Jr.Edgard Zayas15-1
7Frankie’s EmpireMichael YatesMiguel Vasquez20-1
View Full Table

Fountain of Youth Stakes Prep Results

Perhaps surprisingly, only one horse comes out of the Holy Bull (G3), the traditional local prep. Dancing Groom was a non-threatening fifth behind Hades after chasing a slow pace. Another stakes at Gulfstream, the seven-furlong Swale, feeds its top two finishers into the Fountain of Youth. Frankie’s Empire won it after a stalk-and-pounce trip, while Le Dom Bro overcame some trip trouble and ultimately settled for second.

Two other runners come out of Kentucky Derby points races elsewhere. Locked makes his first start since finishing third behind stablemate Fierceness in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile four months ago. Dornoch returns off a three-month layoff; he most recently fought off Sierra Leone in the Remsen.

The other four runners make their stakes debuts in the Fountain of Youth. Real Macho rallied from midfield to upset a first-level allowance going a mile at Gulfstream on February 3, a race where Merit flattened to third. Speak Easy pressed the pace and won a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Gulfstream on his debut on January 27. Victory Avenue, who also debuted in that race, set the pace but had to settle for second. Victory Avenue is the only maiden in the Fountain of Youth.

Fountain of Youth Stakes Contenders

These are the contenders in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, organized by post position:

Speak Easy: The “B” entrant from the Todd Pletcher barn, he pressed the pace and took over in a maiden race; he steps up from that debut win to the Kentucky Derby trail. His pedigree supports this distance on both sides, he worked a recent sharp five furlongs at Palm Beach Downs, and he keeps high-percentage rider Irad Ortiz. However, he is inexperienced and will have to handle a lot of speed outside him.

Le Dom Bro: A maiden special weight winner at Saratoga, he has shown some ability. His only bad effort came in the Remsen; on one hand, that was his only route try, but on the other, it was muddy. His pedigree suggests a route should be good, but also, all of his races have come back slow. In the balance, he may need a class break.

Victory Avenue: The only maiden in the field, he set the pace in his debut but couldn’t keep up with Speak Easy late. His pedigree suggests the extra distance should suit, and he hails from the barn of Gustavo Delgado, who got Mage ready to win the Kentucky Derby last year after limited experience. Don’t count him out of the exotics.

Real Macho: He has a good-race, bad-race pattern going, which doesn’t help since he comes off one of his better efforts. It’s also a concern that his two-back fifth was his only two-turn try. That said, it was also his only race with blinkers, so perhaps he can do better. His pedigree is all distance, and his tactical versatility and Gulfstream Park form are also positives.

Dornoch: He has been on the shelf since winning the Remsen by a nose in December, but the Remsen has graded out strong: second-place Sierra Leone won the Risen Star next out, and third-place Drum Roll Please won the Jerome before going on the shelf. He is a proven two-turn horse; trainer Danny Gargan is good off a layoff, and he is not only the likely speed of the speed but also proven to fight on when challenged.

Merit: He romped by 10 lengths on debut, going seven furlongs at Gulfstream, but weakened in the lane when facing allowance foes over a mile next out. The tactical speed he showed on debut is a positive, though he still has to prove both his class and whether he wants two turns. Still, he has some upside coming second off a lay.

Frankie’s Empire: His last two races have both been sharp, and he won the Swale last out over Le Dom Bro. He also has tactical versatility, and trainer Michale Yates knows how to keep a horse in form. However, he has been well beaten in both of his two-turn tries, he has never stretched out past a mile, and he hasn’t yet faced real Kentucky Derby trail foes.

Locked: The class of the field, Locked, won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) over this distance at Keeneland in October and followed that up with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. A regular string of works at trainer Todd Pletcher’s South Florida base, Palm Beach Downs, should have him fit to return. And, in terms of pace, though he won the Breeders’ Futurity from well off the pace, he broke his maiden from up close, meaning he has options to work a trip.

Dancing Groom: He is the only horse coming in from the traditional local prep, the Holy Bull. However, he has yet to prove he fits with real Kentucky Derby trail horses: he was an even fifth in the Holy Bull, and beaten double-digit lengths in his previous two races, the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and the Champagne (G1). He needs to take a major step forward second off the lay.

Fountain of Youth Stakes Past Winners Past Performances

In the recent history of the Fountain of Youth, the key recent prep for finding winners is the obvious one: the Holy Bull. Five of the last ten winners have last raced in the Holy Bull. They don’t have to win the Holy Bull to win the Fountain of Youth, but they do have to run well. Mohaymen (2016) and Greatest Honour (2021) came out of Holy Bull wins and repeated in the Fountain of Youth, while Gunnevera (2017), Ete Indien (2020), and Simplification (2023) were second in that prep.

Four of the other five winners in the last ten years came out of stakes races. Forte (2023) won the Fountain of Youth in his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Wildcat Red (2014) came out of a win in the Hutcheson (G3), a sprint race at Gulfstream that was then run at the same time of year that the Swale is run now. Promises Fulfilled (2018) had last run third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), while Code of Honor (2019) had been fourth in the Mucho Macho Man.

The other winner in the last ten years, Itsaknockout (2015), came out of an allowance win and won the Fountain of Youth in his stakes debut.

Fountain of Youth Stakes Undercard

The Fountain of Youth Stakes is the 14th race and final race on Gulfstream’s huge Saturday card, one of the focal points of the track’s championship meet. The day features nine stakes races, eight of which are graded, including not only the Fountain of Youth for Derby prospects but also the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) for Kentucky Oaks prospects.

Other stakes on the card include the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) for older turf routers, the $150,000 Honey Fox (G3) for turf mile mares, the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) for older dirt horses, the $200,000 Herecomesthebride (G3) for three-year-old turf mile fillies, the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) for older middle-distance turf horses, the $150,000 Very One (G3) for older turf route mares, and the $200,000 Colonel Liam for three-year-old turf milers.

With classy racing and big fields all day long, make sure to stay tuned to Gulfstream Park on FanDuel TV and to bet the card through FanDuel and TVG!

Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park is the historic racetrack that hosts the Florida Derby each year. It is the only American racetrack that offers all three racing surfaces: conventional dirt, turf, and a synthetic Tapeta surface. The outer track is a dirt course measuring one and one-eighth miles around, complete with a chute that allows for classic one-turn dirt mile races. The next track inward is a one-mile and seventy-yard Tapeta track that opened in 2021. The inner course is a seven-furlong turf track.

Gulfstream Park has hosted many major races over the years, including the Breeders’ Cup in 1989, 1992, and 1999. In 2017, the race ran the rich Pegasus World Cup for the first time, which was at one time the world’s richest horse race. But the Florida Derby, run along the road to the Kentucky Derby, remains Gulfstream Park’s most established and famous race.

Fountain of Youth Stakes FAQ

Q: When is the Fountain of Youth Stakes?

A: The Fountain of Youth Stakes will be run on Saturday, March 2, at 6:10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The race is the fourteenth and final on Saturday’s card, one of the most important of the Gulfstream meet.

Q: Where is the Fountain of Youth Stakes?

A: It takes place at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Fountain of Youth Stakes?

A: Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with four wins in the Fountain of Youth. Those winners include Scat Daddy (2007), Eskendereya (2010), Itsaknockout (2015), and Forte (2023). Pletcher can extend his record if either Locked or Speak Easy wins in 2024.

Q: Who is the favorite for the Fountain of Youth Stakes?

A: Dornoch, winner of the Remsen over Sierra Leone, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the Fountain of Youth. Locked is just behind at 5-2, and given the class and Kentucky Derby trail form of both of these horses, either one has a real chance of being favorite at post time.

Q: Who is the best Fountain of Youth Stakes jockey?

A: Jockey John Velazquez leads all riders with five wins in the Fountain of Youth between 2007 and 2019, most notably with Kentucky Derby winner Orb (2013). He will attempt to extend this record in 2024 with Victory Avenue, for trainer Gustavo Delgado.

Q: Who won the 2023 Fountain of Youth Stakes?

A: Forte won the 2023 Fountain of Youth for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. Pletcher and Ortiz reunite with Speak Easy; Pletcher also entered Locked with rider Jose Ortiz.

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