Fountain of Youth Picks: Awesome Banner Can Upset Derby Betting Favorite

Six will line up in Saturday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.  (Photo credit Bigstock).

Six will line up in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. (Photo credit Bigstock).

The Kiaran McLaughlin trained Mohaymen is getting most of the attention as the early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1), but is going to be a short price on Saturday in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

Currently the 3-1 early wagering favorite for the Kentucky Derby at, Mohaymen is the 6-5 morning line favorite for the Fountain of Youth, but is more likely to go off at 3-5.

The Fountain of Youth is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, with 50-20-10-5 points up for grabs to the top four finishers. A victory assures a starting spot in the gate on the first Saturday of May for the Run for the Roses.

Mohaymen already has 20 Derby points, good for fifth in the current Derby points standings. The Holy Bull (G2) winner will break from the six post with regular rider Junior Alvarado in the irons.

He figures to get a test from Awesome Banner (7-2), who will be making his first start at a route of ground. The colt won the Swale (G2) in his last outing at seven furlongs. Trainer Stanley Gold will give jockey Jose Caraballo a leg up and will break from the five post.

Zulu (3-1) makes his stakes debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, who is seeking his fourth victory in this race. The son of Bernardini is perfect in two starts. John Velazquez has the return call and will break from the two post.

Awesome Speed (4-1) has won three in a row, taking the Mucho Macho Man at a mile over the Gulfstream Park main track in his last outing.  Irad Ortiz Jr. is in to ride from New York for trainer Alan Goldberg.

Fellowship (20-1) was beaten six lengths in his third place finish in the Holy Bull in his last start. He was 16 lengths back in the Mucho Macho Man in a fifth place finish in his previous outing. Jose Lezcano has the call for Stanley Gold.

Completing the field is Golden Ray (30-1) who was beaten 18 ½ lengths in the American Fabius going seven furlongs here on Feb. 15. He was beaten 24 ¾ lengths in the Mucho Macho Man and looks overmatched in this spot.

Post time for the 13-race card at Gulfstream Park on Saturday is 12:00 ET and the card features seven supporting stakes races.

Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:


Gulfstream Park Race 12 The Fountain of Youth (G2) Post time 5:30 ET

5 Awesome Banner   7-2

6 Mohaymen   6-5

2 Zulu   3-1

4 Awesome Speed   4-1

Awesome Banner stretches out to two turns for the first time here after going gate to wire tin the Hutcheson (G3) at six furlongs and the Swale (G2) at seven panels. His trainer Stanley Gold was on the fence about running in this spot, but ultimately has decided to take on the early Kentucky Derby betting favorite.

The colt owns solid early and mid pace numbers and while there is a couple of others in here with early zip this guy’s best shot may be if he is able to shake loose early. The usually reliable Gold barn is having a slow meeting, picking up just three wins from 49 starters and is just 6% winners overall moving runners from sprint to route. Speed has been an asset at this distance at the meeting.  The colt is out of a Zamindar mare that has dropped three other winners including one route winner.

Mohaymen has done nothing wrong and has not been tested in four career starts. The $2.2 million Keeneland purchase started his three-year-old campaign with a sharp win in the Holy Bull (G2) over the main track here. Two back he won the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct over Flexibility, who won the Jerome (G3) in his next outing.

The 6-5 morning line looks fair enough but he seems more likely to be 3-5 in this spot. He has a strong pedigree, by Tapit out of the stakes winner Justwhistledixie ($449,427) who has dropped two other winners including Grade 1 winner New Year’s Day ($1.1 million).

Zulu gets the class test today after trouncing first level optional claimers by 7 ¼ lengths in a sharp win in the slop at seven furlongs. The $900,000 purchase should have no trouble handling two turns. He is by Bernardini out of a Summer Squall mare that has dropped eight other winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Third Chance ($481,464).

Pletcher won this race thanks to a DQ last year with Itsaknockout and won it in 2010 with Eskendereya and in 2007 with Scat Daddy. The barn is 26% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route. The colt still appears to have a ton of upside.


WIN: Awesome Banner to win at 3-1 or better.

EXACTA: 5,6 / 2,5,6

TRIFECTA: no play


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