Zulu, Awesome Speed clock half-mile moves for Fountain of Youth

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TwinSpires Staff

February 21st, 2016

Edited Press Release

Undefeated Zulu breezed four furlongs at Palm Beach Downs Sunday in :48.21 in preparation for his scheduled stakes debut in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

“It went very well. He went in :48 and 1. He breezed by himself with John Velazquez aboard. He got into a nice comfortable rhythm and clicked off :12 around there all the way around,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He looked good and galloped out well. I’m very happy with it. All is on schedule.”

Owned by Stonestreet Stables, Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier and Derrick Smith, Zulu debuted at Gulfstream on the December 5 opening day of the Championship Meet, scoring by two lengths while running six furlongs in 1:10.08 on a good track. The bay son of Bernardini returned on January 15 to capture a seven-furlong allowance/optional claimer over the sloppy surface by 7 1/2 lengths.

Pletcher has enjoyed tremendous success with lightly raced three-year-olds the past two years, capturing the Florida Derby (G1) with Constitution (2014) and Materiality (2015), who each had captured Gulfstream’s signature race off only two career starts.

“We certainly could have opted for an easier spot and shipped out of town somewhere,” Pletcher said. “We just felt like he’s two-for-two at Gulfstream. It’s nice to keep him on a consistent path where he’s familiar with where he’s running. We know he likes the surface, but it’s obviously a tall order.”

Zulu is set to challenge undefeated Mohaymen, who captured the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream last out by 3 1/2 lengths, and unbeaten Awesome Banner, who is coming off back-to-back victories in the Hutcheson (G3) and Swale (G2), among other more experienced three-year-olds.

Colts Neck Stables’ Awesome Speed is one of those with a bit more experience and posted a sharp final work for the Fountain of Youth on Sunday as well.

With trainer Alan Goldberg in town to watch, the three-year-old Awesome Again colt was timed in :48.30 for a half-mile over the fast main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

It was the fourth breeze for Awesome Speed since his 1 1/4-length victory in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man S. and third bullet work. Sunday’s move was the fastest of 45 horses at the distance.

“He went great,” Goldberg said. “He got off in :13, went :48 and 1 or 2, galloped out in a minute and change, and galloped out three-quarters in 1:14. He came back fine and not blowing. Everything is all good. We’re ready.”

A non-threatening seventh in his career bow last August at Parx Racing, Awesome Speed broke his maiden at Laurel last fall and returned there to take the six-furlong James F. Lewis III S. in November to cap his juvenile season.

He successfully stretched out in the Mucho Macho Man and will be making his first trip around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth.

“He’s coming into the race great,” Goldberg said. “We’ve got six more days, everything’s all good. Hopefully there won’t be any hiccups.”

Awesome Speed photo courtesy of Kenny Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography