April 12, 2024

Turf stakes dominate Fountain of Youth Day undercard

Emmanuel wired his turf debut in the Pennine Ridge Stakes (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

The stakes-laden Fountain of Youth Day undercard at Gulfstream Park on Saturday consists mostly of grass stakes, though one notable exception is the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2). While the field includes the top three from the Jan. 27 Fred W. Hooper (G3) that were separated by less than a length — Tumbarumba, Castle Chaos, and Steal Sunshine — Grade 3 veterans Wit and Il Miracolo also add intrigue.

Wit, who began his career as a sprint specialist on the main track, gravitated to the grass two summers ago and enjoyed some success, including a Grade 1 placing in the 2022 Hollywood Derby (G1). He had an abbreviated campaign of three starts last season, most recently finishing third in an off-the-turf renewal of the Belmont Turf Sprint over six furlongs.

“We just felt like we wanted to give him another try on the dirt,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We’re just kind of trying to find exactly what his specialty is. If he does well going a mile on the dirt, it opens up a lot of an options moving forward.”

Main Event and Kingmax take a step down in class from the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and a step up in distance to 1 3/8 miles for the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) on the turf. Main Event got the better of the two in the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) two back, though Kingmax fared better in the Pegasus finishing near midpack while Main Event was near the tail of a compact field after setting the pace.

Also lining up are Grade 3 scorers Dynadrive and Tawny Port, as well as stakes newcomer Headline News.

Four-time graded winner Emmanuel returns to defend his title in the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) over 1 1/6 miles. Primary rivals include other graded veterans Smokin’ T and Atone, as well as Grade 1-placed Ice Chocolat.

The $150,000 The Very One (G3) for fillies and mares at 11 furlongs on the grass should have a solid favorite in Long Island (G3) winner R Calli Kim, who saw her four-race win streak narrowly snapped in the La Prevoyante (G3) last time. The $150,000 Honey Fox (G3), for fillies and mares over a shorter mile, includes recent black-type scorers Chili Flag, Walkathon, For the Flag, and Be My Sunshine.

The $200,000 Herecomesthebride (G3), for three-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf, is round two between Ozara and Life’s an Audible, who ran one-two in the Jan. 6 Ginger Brew S. Stakes winner Crown Imperial was last seen finishing third in the Jessamine (G2) in October, while Mystic Lake and Macanga figure to provide the pace.

The $200,000 Colonel Liam S., a one-mile grass test for three-year-olds, features a rematch between Abrumar and Cugino, one-two in a Jan. 13 allowance at Gulfstream. Recent maiden winners Triple Espresso and Royal Majesty, the latter from the family of Hall of Fame mare Royal Delta, also figure to attract support.