Two horses win photo finishes to emerge on top on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with weekend wins. Wildcat Red picked up 50 points and debuted at number two on the leaderboard for his Fountain of Youth (G2) win and Intense Holiday added 50 points to his three points to overtake the number one spot for his Risen Star (G2) win.
Fountain of Youth
Jose Garoffalo’s Wildcat Red, under the guidance of jockey Luis Saez, won the head-bob over Mike Maker’s General a Rod and jockey Javier Castellano in a duel that endured throughout the 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth. In a field of 13 runners that included horses already being touted as likely Kentucky Derby contenders, it was the pair that had done battle over the Gulfstream Park dirt before (in the Gulfstream Park Derby Jan. 1) that planted themselves well in contention to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Wildcat Red, with the home track advantage, kept his head in front of General a Rod for much of the race as the other runners let the pair go. It was clear early on that if this pair didn’t tire out, none of the others were going to catch them. Claude “Shug” McGaughey III’s Top Billing, who went off favored, closed from the back of the pack and looked strong deep in the stretch, but was unable to catch the pair and finished two lengths back in third. East Hall was another 4 ½ lengths behind him in fourth.
Wildcat Red returned $11.00, $5.00, and $3.40. General a Rod paid $4.60 and $3.20 and completed the $2 exacta for $46.20. Top Billing paid $2.60 and completed the $1 trifecta for $72.60. East Hall completed the $1 superfecta for $906.60. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile race over the fast dirt was 1:41.85.
The team of Todd Pletcher and Starlight Racing, who have had early success on the Kentucky Derby trail, but misfortunes that have quickly dashed their hopes of getting into the Kentucky Derby starting gate (i.e., Algorithms, Shanghai Bobby), have another hopeful in Risen Star winner Intense Holiday.
In sharp contrast to the running style of Wildcat Red’s Fountain of Youth, Intense Holiday remained in mid-pack of the 14-horse Risen Star field as longshot Albano took point on the front end. As the field turned for home Intense Holiday and jockey Mike Smith gained ground to chase down Albano, passing the post-time favorite, Vicar’s in Trouble, along the way to a photo finish and a winning margin of a nose. Vicar’s in Trouble was 5 ½ lengths back in third, with Hoppertunity another 1 ½ lengths behind in fourth.
The closing drive Intense Holiday exhibited in the win was just the type of thrilling finish one would want to see in a Kentucky Derby candidate.
Intense Holiday returned $12.00, $6.00, and $4.00. Albano paid $12.20 and $6.80 and completed the $2 exacta for $148. Vicar’s in Trouble paid $3.40 and completed the $2 trifecta for $513.40. Hoppertunity completed the $2 superfecta for $2,755.40. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile race over the fast dirt was 1:43.86.
Photo: Courtesy FairGroundsRaceTrack.com