Friday, February 27, 2009

Fountain of Youth loaded with speed

By Jennie Rees • jrees@courier-journal.comThe Courier-Journal

In change of pace, race now a mile

What might be the three fastest 3-year-olds in the country -- Notonthesamepage, This Ones for Phil and Taqarub -- square off in a full field for Saturday's $250,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

For the first time, the Fountain of Youth is a one-turn mile. The past four years it was 11/8 miles because the rebuilt Gulfstream cannot accommodate 11/16 miles -- the Fountain of Youth distance for more than 50 years. The latest change makes the Grade II stakes an attractive steppingstone for speedsters trying to show they have the stamina to be serious Kentucky Derby challengers.

In his first start since finishing 11th in Keeneland's 11/16-mile Breeders' Futurity, Notonthesamepage was dazzling in winning Gulfstream's six-furlong Spectacular Bid by 81/4 lengths. His Beyer speed figure of 114 was the fastest this year by any horse until This Ones for Phil was awarded a 116 in taking the Sunshine Millions Dash in his first start for trainer Rick Dutrow after being sold to Paul Pompa Jr.

Notonthesamepage drew post No. 3 and This Ones for Phil post No. 12 among the 12 entries taken yesterday.

Taqarub, (3 for 3) the winner of Aqueduct's six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield by 81/4 lengths who has won all his races on the lead, will start from post No. 10.

"We've got speed outside us, inside us, everywhere," Taqarub trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "But I'm glad we're outside, because we're not forced to go more than we want to go."

Chasing those horses will be a talented pack headed by Capt. Candyman Can, winner of Gulfstream's Grade II Hutcheson at seven furlongs and last fall's Grade III Iroquois at Churchill. Capt. Candyman Can's trainer, Ian Wilkes, brought Capt. Candyman Can back in the one-turn Hutcheson in order to get him to relax. Mission accomplished, he wants to see it again.

Wilkes said he prefers the plethora of speed to a paceless race, but added, "Sometimes when you see this type of race, they all pop out and just do nothing; they all take a hold and look at each other."

Sham Stakes

Santa Anita's $200,000 Sham at 11/8 miles also drew 12 entries yesterday, with Take The Points entered in both it and the Fountain of Youth. Trainer Todd Pletcher said Take The Points' flight to Los Angeles was delayed yesterday and that the colt will go in the Sham provided he can fly out this morning.

The Sham's big favorite is Grade III San Rafael winner The Pamplemousse, with no other stakes winners in the field. Take The Points, a son of Even The Score who is co-owned by Jack Wolf of Louisville, has won his last two races.

Jennie Rees can be reached at (502) 582-4042.

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