The next stop on the Derby trail arrives Saturday in Florida at Gulfstream Park with the $400,000 Grade 2 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes. The field includes another two-year-old standout making his three-year-old debut. To Honor And Serve's two graded stakes wins over last week's Risen Star champ, Mucho Macho Man, look even more impressive now than when he ran them three months ago. Outstanding works since that time show that he's ready for this race. All eyes will certainly be on the 8/5 morning line favorite to see if he will return to the form he had as a two-year-old or if he will be another fading star like Tapizar and Comma To The Top.
His competition will include Soldat, who finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall and started off this year with a 10 3/4 length win over rivals on the Gulfstream dirt.
The front-running styles of Soldat and To Honor And Serve may set it up for a closer like Gourmet Dinner. He finished third in the one mile Holy Bull Stakes last month behind one of the leading Derby contenders, Dialed In. The extra 1/16 mile of the Fountain of Youth may be just what Gourmet Dinner needs to land on top. With a lightning fast workout a few days ago, he looks like a major threat.
Other contenders in the field with much shorter resumes are Shackleford and Casper's Touch who finished in that order just three weeks ago in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park. Rounding out the field of eight are longshots El Grayling, with his only win over the turf, Bowman's Causeway, who just broke his maiden, and Racing Aptitude, who's done most of his racing on grass.
The race is scheduled to run Saturday at 5:25 PM and concludes the three stakes races for three year-olds on the Gulfstream card. Tune in early to HRTV to catch the Grade 2 Davona Dale (an Oaks prep race) and the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes (another Derby prep race). We'll recap all on Monday and see who's one step closer to the big races in May.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby