The 2023 Fountain of Youth Stakes happens March 4 at Gulfstream Park! It is a Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile race, and it offers a $200,000 purse as well as Kentucky Derby points (50-30-15-10-5) to its first five finishers. It is the final local prep for the Florida Derby (G1), and it all but guarantees its winner a berth in the Run for the Roses.
The race is open to three-year-olds, and drew a field of ten promising sophomore colts. The leader of the pack is Forte, last year’s champion juvenile, who makes his seasonal debut in the Fountain of Youth. Other leading contenders include Holy Bull (G3) winner Rocket Can, Champagne (G1) winner Blazing Sevens, and Swale (G3) winner General Jim.
This race has a long history of producing important Kentucky Derby prospects. Orb (2013) is the most recent Fountain of Youth winner to take the roses as well. Others who have parlayed Fountain of Youth success into Kentucky Derby wins include Tim Tam (1958), Kauai King (1966), Spectacular Bid (1979), and Thunder Gulch (1995).
Fountain of Youth Stakes 2023 Information
Race Date: Saturday, March 4, 2023
Track: Gulfstream Park
Post Time: 5:43 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Fountain of Youth Stakes Odds
This is the official field for the 2023 Fountain of Youth. It includes post positions, trainers, jockeys, and the morning-line odds set by Gulfstream Park
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Fountain of Youth Stakes Prep Results
Fully half the Fountain of Youth field comes out of Gulfstream’s previous points prep, the Holy Bull. Rocket Can leads that charge, as he rallied from midpack and held off stablemate Shadow Dragon to win by three-quarters of a length. Shadow Dragon, who acquitted himself nicely in the Holy Bull in his first start against company bred outside New York, also returns here. Others from the Holy Bull who forge down the Florida spur of the Derby trail include fourth-place Legacy Isle, fifth-place El Miracolo, and seventh-place Cyclone Mischief. Cyclone Mischief was the beaten favorite from the Holy Bull.
Two others come out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and make their sophomore debuts in the Fountain of Youth. Forte leads that pair; Forte won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with authority and was a clear choice for champion juvenile of 2022. Blazing Sevens, fourth at the Breeders’ Cup after a tough start, also resurfaces here.
The other three horses each come from different races. General Jim most recently won the Swale going seven furlongs and tries two turns on dirt for the first time in the Fountain of Youth. Dangerous Ride, a Florida-bred stakes winner on all-weather, comes in off of an allowance optional claiming sprint win on the Gulfstream dirt. Mage, one of the buzz horses, comes in from a strong debut maiden win.
Fountain of Youth Stakes Contenders
These are the contenders in the 2023 Fountain of Youth Stakes, organized by post position:
General Jim: He is well proven over two turns, with a pair of wins at 1 1/16 miles, though both of those came on grass. He has found some success on the dirt this year, though, with a good fourth in the Mucho Macho Man and then a victory in the Swale. He did win the Swale from the rail and a 12-horse turf allowance last year from post 2, meaning this post may hurt him less than most, and he is tactical enough to work a trip.
Legacy Isle: He has never crossed the wire worse than first in three starts before the Holy Bull, though he weakened to seventh in his first two-turn try. Perhaps going blinkers off will relax him, and he did pass horses to win his allowance on November 22. He does need a step forward in this spot; a win seems unlikely though he could be a price for the exotics.
Shadow Dragon: Trainer Bill Mott does not place horses in tough spots without good reason, so it jumped off the page when he put a runner in the Holy Bull off a well-beaten sixth in a New York-bred stakes. Shadow Dragon obliged, running a close second to stablemate Rocket Can. In short? He is second off the lay, it appears he has trained on at three, and he can handle a mile and a sixteenth at Gulfstream. If the pace gets a little hot, it will suit him well, but he even closed into a more pedestrian pace in the Holy Bull, and, therefore, he looks like a contender.
Forte: He is the horse to beat. This is his first three-year-old start, but even his speed and form at two make him a tough customer here. His pair of two-turn starts have both been excellent, including a confident score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and he is a late runner who does not have to drop unreasonably far off the pace. The biggest question is Gulfstream; some horses love it, and others hate it, and he has never tried the course.
Il Miracolo: He did well in maiden company at Gulfstream through the autumn, but Gulfstream isn’t as tough a track until the Championship meet starts in December. His three forays into stakes company have seen him well beaten, and despite his flashy pedigree, he has yet to run a race that puts him anywhere near the contenders in this.
Blazing Sevens: The only horse other than Forte to come into the Fountain of Youth out of the Breeders’ Cup, he has some tables to turn after finishing fourth. But, his earlier form suggests that he does not need to be quite as far back as he was in the Breeders’ Cup, and the trouble he faced at the start suggests that he could get that better positioning with a better start. He does need to improve if Forte comes back just as strong as before, but he only needs a manageable step from two to three.
Mage: Ignored at 11-1 on debut, he set the pace in a maiden sprint at Gulfstream on January 28 and blew clear to win by daylight in fast fashion. That was only at seven furlongs, but that speed will help, and his pedigree suggests a mile and a sixteenth should be right within his wheelhouse. Trainer Delgado does well first-time route, too, though it is also worth noting that he tends to do poorly with last-out maiden winners, with only one of his last 28 visiting the winners’ circle again.
Rocket Can: He made his stakes debut in the Holy Bull, got well bet, and ran to the money. He tracked in range, took over in the lane, and steadfastly held off improving stablemate Shadow Dragon. His two-back allowance second is looking strong in retrospect, too: not only did he win next out, but that race’s winner, Confidence Game, won the Rebel last week as well. With Gulfstream form and tactical speed, Rocket Can should be lined up for another good effort.
Cyclone Mischief: This stalking type was the buzz horse coming into the Holy Bull, sent off favored after a 5 3/4-length win in a Gulfstream allowance on January 8. But, he came up empty and finished a well-beaten seventh of eight. He has a two-turn win last year, and perhaps that allowance race was just a regression: after all, trainer Dale Romans does well with last-out beaten favorites. Demand a price, but if he stays near his morning line, his could be worth a shot.
Dangerous Ride: With nine starts, he has a lot of experience, and all three of his wins are at Gulfstream. But, he has yet to prove his mettle in an open-stakes race. The last-out win in an open allowance was a step forward, but he had a much easier time up front than he will have in this race, and he is mired in a worse post. All this adds up to a challenging spot for him to find a massive career best.
Fountain of Youth Stakes Past Winners Past Performances
In the recent history of the Fountain of Youth, the key recent prep for finding winners is the obvious one: the Holy Bull. Five of the last ten winners (in fact, five of the last seven) have last raced in the Holy Bull. They don’t have to win the Holy Bull to win the Fountain of Youth, but they do have to run well. Mohaymen (2016) and Greatest Honour (2021) came out of Holy Bull wins and repeated in the Fountain of Youth, while Gunnevera (2017), Ete Indien (2020), and Simplification (2022) were second in that prep.
Three of the other five winners in the last ten years came out of stakes races. Wildcat Red (2014) came out of the Hutcheson (G3), a sprint race at Gulfstream that was then run at the same time of year that the Swale is run now. Promises Fulfilled (2018) had last run third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), while Code of Honor (2019) had been fourth in the Mucho Macho Man.
Two others in the last ten years came out of allowance wins and took the Fountain of Youth in their stakes debuts. Eventual Kentucky Derby winner Orb (2013) did that route, as did Itsaknockout (2015).
Fountain of Youth Stakes Undercard
The Fountain of Youth Stakes is the 14th race and final race on Gulfstream’s huge Saturday card. The day features nine stakes races, eight of which are graded, including not only the Fountain of Youth for Derby prospects but also the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) for Kentucky Oaks prospects.
Other stakes on the card include the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) for older turf routers, the $150,000 Honey Fox (G3) for turf mile mares, the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) for older dirt horses, the $200,000 Herecomesthebride (G3) for three-year-old turf mile fillies, the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) for older middle-distance turf horses, the $150,000 Very One (G3) for older turf route mares, and the$200,000 Colonel Liam for three-year-old turf milers.
With classy racing and big fields all day long, make sure to stay tuned to Gulfstream Park on FanDuel TV and to bet the card through FanDuel and TVG!
Gulfstream Park is the historic racetrack that hosts the Florida Derby each year. It is the only American racetrack that offers all three racing surfaces: conventional dirt, turf, and a synthetic Tapeta surface. The outer track is a dirt course measuring one and one-eighth miles around, complete with a chute that allows for classic one-turn dirt mile races. The next track inward is a one-mile and seventy-yard Tapeta track that opened in 2021. The inner course is a seven-furlong turf track.
Gulfstream Park has hosted many major races over the years, including the Breeders’ Cup in 1989, 1992, and 1999. In 2017, the race ran the rich Pegasus World Cup for the first time, which was at one time the world’s richest horse race. But the Florida Derby, run along the road to the Kentucky Derby, remains Gulfstream Park’s most established and famous race.
Fountain of Youth Stakes FAQ
Q: When is the Fountain of Youth Stakes?
A: The 2023 Fountain of Youth Stakes will be run Saturday, March 4, at 5:43 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The race is the fourteenth and final on Saturday’s Gulfstream card.
Q: Where is the Fountain of Youth Stakes?
A: It takes place at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Fountain of Youth Stakes?
A: Three trainers have three wins each in the Fountain of Youth. Jimmy Jones won it three times between 1957 and 1961, most famously with Kentucky Derby winner Tim Tam (1958). D. Wayne Lukas, who is still active, most recently won with High Yield (2000) but does not have a horse in the race this year. Todd Pletcher, whose three winners include excellent sire Scat Daddy (2007), sends out Forte this year.
Q: Who is the favorite for the 2023 Fountain of Youth Stakes?
A: Forte was named the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the Fountain of Youth. Off of his championship season as a two-year-old and his string of regular workouts into the race, he should be a well-defined favorite when the gates fling open.
Q: Who is the best Fountain of Youth Stakes jockey?
A: Jockey John Velazquez leads all riders with five wins in the Fountain of Youth between 2007 and 2019, most notably with Kentucky Derby winner Orb (2013). Though he is still an active rider, he does not have a call in this year’s edition. Among jockeys in the 2023 Fountain of Youth, two have won the race twice. Luis Saez rides General Jim this year, while Jose Ortiz will pilot Shadow Dragon.
Q: Who won the 2022 Fountain of Youth Stakes?
A: Simplification won the 2022 edition of the Fountain of Youth for jockey Jose Ortiz and trainer Antonio Sano. Ortiz rides Shadow Dragon for Bill Mott, while Sano sends out Il Miracolo, who will be ridden by Edgar Perez.