Will Free Drop Billy Upset the Fountain of Youth?

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 1st, 2018

The return of a champion is always an exciting day for racing fans, and for bettors it can provide a great opportunity to make a score if they believe that the champion is vulnerable to an upset.

When Gulfstream Park hosts the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) this Saturday, all eyes will be on #6 . Trained by Chad Brown, the son of Curlin showed immense potential as a two-year-old, finishing second in his first two starts (including a narrow miss in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes) before scoring a breakthrough victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), parlaying a pace-tracking trip into a decisive 4 ¼ length triumph.

That effort earned Good Magic a 105 BRIS speed figure and--later on--the Eclipse Award as the champion two-year-old male of 2017. A repeat of his Breeders’ Cup effort would obviously make Good Magic difficult to beat in the Fountain of Youth, but with the Kentucky Derby as the ultimate goal, Saturday’s race is just a starting point and he’s not necessarily cranked to deliver a peak run this early in the season.

With that in mind, I’m going to take a shot with #2 Free Drop Billy. Winner of the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland last fall, Free Drop Billy finished well back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but may have been compromised by racing inside on a day when the rail seemed like the worst part of the track.

In any case, Free Drop Billy looked great when returning to action in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream last month. Put in tight quarters early on while rating just behind a modest pace, Free Drop Billy made a big move to reach contention around the far turn, and while he ultimately proved to be no match for the runaway winner Audible, it’s important to note that Free Drop Billy finished 7 ¾ lengths clear of the rest of the field while earning an excellent 99 BRIS speed figure. It’s safe to say that Free Drop Billy ran a winning race in his own right and was simply beaten by a better horse on the day.

That recent run at Gulfstream could give Free Drop Billy a subtle but significant edge over Good Magic, and drawing post two should help him save ground with the short run to the first turn. While I’m not all that enthusiastic about playing against Good Magic, from a value perspective I think Free Drop Billy is going to be an overlay compared to his actual chances of winning.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$10 exacta: 2,6 with 2,6 ($20) $2 trifecta: 2 with 6 with 5,9 ($4) $2 trifecta: 2 with 5,9 with 6 ($4) $1 trifecta: 2 with 5,9 with 5,9 ($2)

In addition, Free Drop Billy could be worth a win bet at odds of 5-2 or higher. Good luck!