Pugh Predicts Awesome Upset In Fountain of Youth

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TwinSpires Staff

February 26th, 2016


This weekend’s Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park may have drawn a short field, but it makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity.

For FREE Ultimate Past Performances of the Fountain of Youth Stakes, CLICK HERE.

The presence of the unbeaten Mohaymen undoubtedly scared away those who know what it is like to be left in his wake. However, it his entry did not deter some new faces from coming out to try their hoof against him. The question is, will they be successful?

The field:

1.)    Fellowship: The first half of trainer Stanley Gold’s duo. He was coming on strong in his last start, the Holy Bull Stakes, but didn’t get a good pace that day. This time around he will get a hot pace to run into, especially if his stalemate Awesome Banner and Zulu hook up early. Despite that, he looks to be a cut below the best here. He could close enough to hit the board, but I don’t see him threatening for the win.

2.)    Zulu: The son of Bernardini, trained by Gulfstream Park juggernaut Todd Pletcher, will be taking up a big step up in class. He gets the services of one of Pletcher’s favorite regular riders, Johnny Velasquez, but that may not be enough to set off his lack of experience and foundation. From this position he will be forced to send from the gate, which could put him in speed duel with Awesome Banner. If that happens I see him fading in the stretch. However, if he can use his quick speed to avoid traffic early and then switch off when clear, he could have a shot.

3.)    Golden Ray: This one is by far the least accomplished horse in the field. His record indicates that he has no business being in this race considering a pair of unplaced efforts in stakes competition. He has speed, but not enough to put him in serious contention, and it would seem he needs the lead to run his best. This son of American Lion is a complete pass.

4.)    Awesome Speed: His only defeat came in his first outing, and since then he has been absolutely perfect. His past performances indicate that while he has speed that he isn’t speed crazy. This race will provide an acid test for Awesome Speed. He has looked impressive in all three of his wins, but he has yet to face horses of Mohaymen or Awesome Banner’s quality.

5.)    Awesome Banner: The other Stanley Gold trainee drew a favorable spot for this race. Being towards the outside will give him the option to relax off of Zulu, who will need to gun it from the two post. His natural speed will place him close to, if not on the lead, but he will likely get a softer pace than he is used to. This possibility could allow him to stretch out successfully, while also withstanding Mohaymen’s late burst.

6.)    Mohaymen: The unbeaten son of Tapit, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, will face his stiffest test to date. He will get a favorable set up, sitting just off the pace makers, however he will have a much tougher opponent to run down. Awesome Banner is not known to let others by him in the stretch, in fact he is known to pull away from his competition. Mohaymen has a very strong late burst (see Holy Bull), which will make things tight at the wire.

Race Outlook: The pace of the Fountain of Youth will be competitive, with pace setters being Zulu and Awesome Banner. Behind them will sit Awesome Speed and Mohaymen, who will get first run if either of the two leaders begin to falter. In the later stages Zulu will begin to fade, as his lack of foundation catches up to him. Mohaymen and Awesome Speed will begin their assaults on the lead, but Mohaymen’s turn of foot will prove to be the better of the two. Fellowship, who will have gotten the perfect set up will be closing strongly, but not fast enough to threaten.

Laura’s Kentucky Derby Dream Bet Pick: 1.) Awesome Banner 2.) Mohaymen 3.) Awesome Speed 4.) Fellowship