After a troubled runner-up in the Holy Bull (G3), Simplification rebounded with a 3 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth (G2), an 85-point qualifier for the Kentucky Derby. Gulfstream Park also offered the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2), a Road to the Kentucky Oaks series qualifier, and Kathleen O. proved much the best.
Fountain of Youth (G2)
Simplification settled in midpack, rallied six wide into contention on the far turn, and drew away in the short stretch of the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth. Jose Ortiz picked up the mount on the Florida-bred son of Not This Time for trainer Antonio Sano.
“I knew he was going to be tough,” Ortiz said. “I worked him and Antonio had a lot of confidence in him. He broke well. He pulled me into the race. He put me there. At the three-eighths pole, I decided to go wide and follow Emmanuel and he was there for me.”
Owned by Tami Bobo, Simplification avoided a spill nearing the conclusion of the far turn. High Oak, who was in tight amongst a pack of runners, appeared to clip heels and fell, dislodging jockey Junior Alvarado. Galt unseated Joel Rosario when jumping the fallen horse.
Alvarado and Rosario left the track under their own power. High Oak and Galt, both trained by Bill Mott, appeared to escape serious mishap and were walked back to the stable area.
A four-length wire-to-wire winner of the Mucho Macho Man S. two starts previously, Simplification closed for second in the Feb. 5 Holy Bull after missing the start. The bay colt broke cleanly Saturday and continued to display his versatility utilizing stalking tactics, greatly enhancing his Kentucky Derby profile in the process.
“For me I liked the trip,” Sano said. “I talked to Jose this morning and said you don’t need to be in the front. The start was very important. If the horse has a good start and a safe trip, you won’t have a problem. I wanted him to stay outside. Our horse in front with the speed horses won’t have a chance. The horse responded to Jose. He said, ‘Go,’ and it was all good.”
Off as the 5-2 favorite, Simplification was timed in 1:44.04. He’s now earned $411,350 from a 6-3-1-1 record.
Simplification increased his Kentucky Derby point total to 54, which should be more than enough to guarantee him a spot in the first leg of the Triple Crown on May 7.
In Due Time closed for second at 6-1, a length better than O Captain, who was easily the longest shot on the board at 87-1. It was another three-quarters of a length to 29-10 second choice Emmanuel, who was expected to show speed but got shuffled back after failing to break sharply.
Dean Delivers, Rattle N Roll, A. P.’s Secret, pacesetter Markhamian and Howling Time came next under the wire.
Out of the stakes-placed Candy Ride mare Simply Confection, Simplification was bred by Irwin and France Weiner. He’s from the immediate female family of multiple champion Ashado.
Simplification has raced exclusively at Gulfstream, and Sano said the April 2 Florida Derby (G1) likely will be next.
Davona Dale (G2)
An 8 1/2-length romper in the Jan. 1 Cash Run S., Kathleen O. continued to impress while remaining unbeaten in the Davona Dale. The Shug McGaughey-trained filly packs a late punch, rallying from last to score by a two-length margin, and Javier Castellano was up for owner Winngate Stables.
“I liked the way she did it today,” Castellano said. “She doesn’t have the speed to be close to the horses, but I loved the way she finished. She always breaks slow out of the gate, but that’s her style. Every horse is different. Turning for home, I was loaded. I was just looking for the seam and trying to split horses and that’s exactly what I did.”
The dark bay daughter of Upstart picked up 50 points in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series qualifier, and Kathleen O. left the starting gate as the 23-10 favorite among seven fillies.
Mi Negrita sprinted forward to establish a solid pace in the one-turn mile race, reeling off splits in :23.68 and :46.04 while being chased by Forward Gal (G3) winner Girl With a Dream. After the field began to bunch up on the far turn, Kathleen O. was steered wide into the stretch, launching a decisive bid to win going away.
Kathleen O. completed the mile in 1:36.23.
Classy Edition closed for second, 1 1/4 lengths better than Cocktail Moments in third. Next came Sweet Dani Girl, Outfoxed, Girl With a Dream, and Mi Negrita.
Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds and Bridlewood Farm, Kathleen O. was purchased for $275,000 at last year’s OBS Spring two-year-old sale. She’s the first foal from the stakes-placed Blame mare Quaver, who is closely related to Grade 1-winning millionaire and sire Cupid.
Kathleen O. broke her maiden at first asking going seven furlongs at Aqueduct in mid-November, and she improved to 3-for-3 with her first graded stakes victory. McGaughey said the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on April 2 is a likely target for her two-turn debut.