Promises Fulfilled stole the show, sprinting forward from an outside post and leading wire to wire in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, and Good Magic came up flat in his much-anticipated return. The champion 2-year-old male and a leading Kentucky Derby contender, Good Magic never offered a challenge recording an even third in his first appearance since a smashing Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) victory.
The ramifications were easy to sense as the 2018 Kentucky Derby picture suddenly became more wide-open.
Last seen recording a third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last November, Promises Fulfilled recorded his first stakes victory and picked up 50 points for the qualifier. Trained by Dale Romans, the sophomore son of Shackleford promises to bring plenty of speed to the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Irad Ortiz Jr. was up on the chestnut colt for owner Robert J. Baron.
Overlooked at 18-1 among nine runners, Promises Fulfilled was hustled straight to the lead when the gates opened and led by a length after a reasonable quarter-mile :23.80. He was facing a speed-laden field, including 7-2 second choice Strike Power who had never been headed in a pair of sharp sprint wins, but Promises Fulfilled was able to clear and dictated the action with Strike Power content to stalk the pacesetter in second.
“I thought that he could open up (on the lead) and he did,” Romans said. “It was a bunch of fast horses but a lot of times that speed doesn’t materialize and coming from the outside it kind of pressed our hand. On the turn if you wait to see what everybody else does, you’re going to be hung wide. I just told (Irad Ortiz), ‘Push the pedal and try to open up and see where they go from there. If somebody comes and chases you down the backside, then ride a smart race.’ They let him go in 48 with his ears up and I knew it was going to take a heck of a horse to pass him at that point.”
Good Magic settled in third, two lengths back after the opening half-mile in :48.39, and continued to hold his positioning through three-quarters in 1:12.60. Jockey Jose Ortiz asked his mount nearing the completion of the far turn but received no response as the 3-5 favorite threatened to retreat toward the back of the field entering the short stretch.
Good Magic did finish with some interest late to be a clear third but it proved to be an extremely disappointing performance considering the expectations surrounding the Chad Brown-trained son of Curlin.
“They slowed it down on the backside pretty good, going 23, 48, but my horse was pretty handy getting whatever I wanted to,” Jose Ortiz said. “When I went after them in the three-eighths pole, he didn’t kick very well. It’s a speed favoring track with a short stretch, but no excuses. He’s coming off the layoff and I’m sure he will move forward with this race under his belt, next time we’ll be ok.”
“He got a good trip,” Brown said of the odds-on favorite. “He had no trouble and got good position early. The latter part of the race, he didn’t have it. The horses that were 1-2 the whole way just kicked ahead of him. The horse came back a little tired. He was blowing pretty good. It looked like he needed the race. Hopefully, he got what he needed out of it and go on to the next step.”
Promises Fulfilled accelerated into the stretch full of run and wasn’t threatened recording a 2 ½-length decision. He completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:44.17.
“The trainer told me to go to the lead and hold on. When I asked my horse he just took off again,” Irad Ortiz said. “He was impressive today, he ran the whole race. He broke great and was ready, the trainer was right.”
Strike Power held his position in second throughout and wound up 2 ¼ lengths better than Good Magic on the wire. It was another two-length gap back to 37-1 Machismo in fourth.
Marconi, Gotta Go, Storm Runner, He Takes Charge and Peppered completed the order of finish. Free Drop Billy, who many thought would be the second choice in the wagering following a runner-up in the Holy Bull (G2), was scratched by Romans in favor of next Saturday’s Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.
Promises Fulfilled recorded a four-length triumph when making his career debut at Churchill Downs last September and followed with an entry-level allowance score at Keeneland. Stretching out to two turns for the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, Promises Fulfilled led into the stretch before weakening to third, 2 ½ lengths behind the winning Enticed.
With Saturday’s $238,080 payday, he’s now earned $327,280 from a 4-3-0-1 scorecard.
Bred in Kentucky by David Jacobs, Promises Fulfilled hails from Grade 3 runner-up Marquee Delivery, a daughter of Marquetry who has also produced the multiple stakes-winning filly Marquee Miss. Promises Fulfilled also counts stakes-placed Marquee Cal Gal as a half-sister and has proved to be a savvy purchase for $37,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September sale.