September 26, 2023

Charge It among leading Pletcher hopes on Fountain of Youth Day undercard

Charge It was never asked a question in his return at Gulfstream Park (Photo by Coglianese Photography)

Charge It figures to be one of the stronger favorites on Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Day program when the four-year-old lines up in the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2).

Hampered by infirmities from competing during the second half of his three-year-old campaign last season, Charge It returned to action in a Feb. 5 allowance at Gulfstream going 1 1/16 miles, which he won under minimal urging by 1 1/2 lengths. It was the colt’s first outing since a blowout 23-length score in the Dwyer (G3) last July.

“He had been training super into that, and I thought it was a big effort,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We’re thinking maybe down the road a race like the Oaklawn H. (G2) could fit his schedule. We felt like this would be a good segue.”

Also entered in the Gulfstream Park Mile are Simplification, winless since last year’s Fountain of Youth, and the recent top three finishers from the Jan. 28 Fred W. Hooper (G3): Endorse, Octane, and Dean Delivers.

Emmanuel is the likely favorite to follow-up his season debut win in the Tampa Bay (G3) with a score in the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, while fellow Pletcher trainee Cairo Consort will look to make it three stakes wins in a row at the Gulfstream Championship meet in the $200,000 Herecomesthebride (G3), a one-mile grass test for three-year-old fillies. Pletcher will also be well represented in the $200,000 Colonel Liam S. for three-year-olds at one mile on the turf with Dude N Colorado, Santorini, and Ok Boomer.

The $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) over 1 3/8 miles on the turf features a rematch between Astronaut and Highest Honors, one-two in the Red Smith (G3) at Aqueduct in November. Last-out William L. McKnight (G3) runner-up Value Engineering and Grade 2 veteran Master Piece are also among the full field of 12.

Virginia Joy will defend her title in a competitive renewal of the $150,000 The Very One (G3), also over 11 furlongs. Rivals include a fellow German-bred from the Chad Brown barn, Mylady, who placed in both the German 1000 Guineas (G1) and German Oaks (G1) last season, and another Grade 1-placed stablemate, Higher Truth. Transient, meanwhile, enters off a close second in the La Prevoyante (G3).

Brown also has two strong contenders in the $150,000 Honey Fox (G3) for fillies and mares at one mile on the turf. Speak of the Devil impressively won her U.S. debut last May in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), though she missed the remainder of the season after a dull fourth in the Just a Game (G1), while Faith in Humanity has won twice in three starts, including the Pebbles (G3) at Aqueduct when last seen in September.

Other notables include Grade 3 veteran White Frost, a Jan. 26 allowance winner in her return from a 14-month spell, and Jockey Club Oaks (G3) third Miss Yearwood.