How special is Forte? That’s what bettors on the road to the Kentucky Derby will decide and what the 1 1/6 Mile Fountain of Youth Stakes will reveal Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The Fountain of Youth Stakes will all but guarantee at least one Kentucky Derby entrant, so the winner can rest easy. Nationwide bettors can access the action via FanDuel TV. Post time is 5:43 p.m ET.
Forte To Continue Rise After Breeders’ Cup Showing?
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner was the early 7-5 morning-line favorite and figures to be a substantial chalk in his 2023 debut. Forte triumphed in the $2 million Juvenile, later earned the Eclipse Award as the top 2-year-old male horse and now drops to a purse of $400,000.
He faces fellow shipper Blazing Sevens, who finished fourth in the Juvenile, along with a field of opponents who recently ran at this track.
The battle lines are the class of these two layoff horses versus the less accomplished but fresh set of rivals, who ran here in January and February.
Forte’s BC Juvenile winning time was 1:43.06, fastest dirt time in this field for this distance. The question becomes whether that form translates to this track.
How To Bet Horse Racing Odds
Fountain of Youth Stakes
For most of the field, this is “win and you’re in” for the road to the Kentucky Derby. The Fountain of Youth awards 50-20-15-10 and 5 points from first through fifth.
But for Forte, it represents more of a pure shot at earnings. With 40 points, he’s already probable for the Derby.
Let’s take a look at the field in post order, and then notes on every horse in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.
|1||General Jim||Claude McGauhey||Luis Saez||6-1|
|2||Legacy Isle||Rohan Crichton||Emisael Jaramillo||20-1|
|3||Shadow Dragon||William Mott||Jose Ortiz||12-1|
|4||Forte||Todd Pletcher||Irad Ortiz||7-5|
|5||Il Miracolo||Antonio Sano||Edgar Perez||30-1|
|6||Blazing Sevens||Chad Brown||Joel Rosario||7-2|
|7||Mage||Gustavo Delgado||Javier Castellano||8-1|
|8||Rocket Can||William Mott||Junior Alvarado||8-1|
|9||Cyclone Mischief||Dale Romans||Tyler Gaffalione||12-1|
|10||Dangerous Ride||Carolos David||Miguel Vazquez||30-1|
General Jim (6-1)
- Two competitive Gulfstream Park efforts after winning at this distance at Keeneland and Saratoga.
- Squeezed inside at the Mucho Macho Man stakes and was a just-beaten third.
- Rallied to win the Swale Stakes at seven furlongs, chasing a hot pace. Will make mid to late moves. Must show enough tactical speed to utilize the rail.
Legacy Isle (20-1)
- Ran beautifully to the turn in the Holy Bull Stakes and grabbed a short lead before being vanquished by Rocket Can and Shadow Dragon, whom he will face here.
- Last race suggests he hit a talent wall he can’t break through. Nonetheless, should be forwardly placed and good value.
Shadow Dragon (12-1)
- Nearly the Cinderella Story of the Holy Bull Stakes.
- Woke up in his third career start to notch a huge effort at 30-1, nearly running down victorious Rocket Can. Nonetheless finished a strong second and completed a $2 exacta of 149.40.
- That was the longest race of his career and it happened on this surface. If he can duplicate that effort, this is a nice price for him.
- Has fashioned the look of a superstar, winning four of five across Belmont Park, Saratoga and Keeneland.
- Won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland. Credentials put him a notch above the others. If you are looking for vulnerability, he’s away since November. The layoff could matter.
- He should be stalking, placed in a good spot and ready to make a move coming for home.
Il Miracolo (30-1)
- Aptly named for this race, as the English translation of his name is The Miracle. Would need a miracolo to beat these, having leveled off at the maiden special weight level.
- Beaten decisively in three stakes races. May be a factor prompting the pace, however.
Blazing Sevens (7-2)
- Was moving sharply at the end of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Despite finishing fourth to Forte, he had good purpose in his stride. Finished about five lengths back and would have a tough time turning the tables, but bettors will back him heavily in exotics.
- Figures to run late. Same layoff factor as Forte to consider.
- Like Blazing Sevens, is the son of 2017 Juvenile Cup winner Good Magic. Mage gained early-line respect after an impressive maiden special weights victory at 11-1 in his debut. He wired the field, wielding impressive fractions of 45.88 for the half-mile and 1:10 for six furlongs.
- Connections may have been convinced to enter him on the strength of a strong final furlong, in which he put the field away. Must stretch to two turns, a talented field and perhaps company on the front end.
- With all of that, you’d think this price would be higher. That will prompt a second look from bettors.
Rocket Can (8-1)
- The good news is that he won the Holy Bull at this track last month. The bad news is that his time of 1:44.97 was the slowest at this distance since Booklet won it in 2002 at 1:46.16.
- White Abarrio captured the Holy Bull last year in 1:42.80, which would suggest a differential of about 10 lengths
- Connections realize the time of the Holy Bull may not get it done, but his stalking style and heart could make a difference down the lane.
Cyclone Mischief (12-1)
- The public loved him before the Holy Bull. They bet him down to 6-5. Speed backed up and he was all set to pounced around the final turn. But he didn’t. Cyclone Mischief was overrun by race winner Rocket Can and looks hard pressed to improve enough to beat these.
- That’s how the 3-year-old circuit is. Some horses are evolving. Others are hitting the wall and flattening out.
Dangerous Ride (30-1)
- Illustrated potential in wiring the field in a nice seven-furlong effort at allowance company over this track. This is a major step up but connections want to see if he belongs in major-stakes company.
- Figures to work on the front and keep the pace honest.
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The Fountain of Youth Stakes Betting Tips
Legacy Isle, Mage and Dangerous Ride are logical frontrunners, with Cyclone Mischief in early pursuit. Forte and Blazing Sevens will stalk and attack late, if past form converts here.
Some combination of the shippers and local horses figures to mark the board.
See how much money Forte takes. If he stays here or goes lower, one exacta box combo and smaller trifecta box may be the way to go. Forte and Blazing Sevens are the logical top two, but they have been away and must ship.
Rocket Can and Shadow Dragon come out of the $250,000 Holy Bull, which is better than the $150,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes involving General Jim. But, General Jim has excelled on turf at this distance. And although this is a different surface, he should merit one exacta box with Forte.
I will also take a pop with a 50-cent trifecta box 3-4-6-8. If a horse looks like a stickout in the post parade, I will key him and put General Jim and Mage in tickets.
Riding a Gulfstream angle, I also have to take one exacta box with the Ortiz brothers (4-3). They are both excellent riders, especially at this track. Irad Ortiz is aboard Forte. Jose Ortiz on Shadow Dragon seem to bring out the best in their horses and each other when they appear in the same race.
Good luck finding your best angle for betting the Fountain of Youth Stakes on the road to the Kentucky Derby.
Remainder of Road To The Kentucky Derby Schedule
The Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule began in September. However, the win-and-in races began Feb. 18 with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. That was the first race that awards 50 points to the winner. Below is the race schedule for the 50 and 100-point prep races, enough for the race winners to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, if entered.
|Race||Track||Date||Points For Top Finishers|
|UAE Derby||Meydan Racecourse||Mar 25, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Louisiana Derby||Fair Grounds||Mar 25, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Jeff Ruby Steaks||Turfway Park||Mar 25, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Sunland Derby||Sunland Park||Mar 26, 2023||50-20-15-10-5|
|Florida Derby||Gulfstream Park||Apr 1, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Arkansas Derby||Oaklawn Park||Apr 1, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Wood Memorial||Aqueduct||Apr 8, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Blue Grass||Keeneland||Apr 8, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Santa Anita Derby||Santa Anita Park||Apr 8, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|