To Honor And Serve Draws Post No. 7 In Fasig-Tipton Fountain Of Youth
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - The ‘Road’ to the 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) grows wider and faster Saturday at Gulfstream Park as Live Oak Plantation’s To Honor and Serve makes his 3-year-old debut as the solid favorite in the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at 1 1/8 miles with John Velazquez aboard for trainer Bill Mott.
They teamed up to win the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct by two lengths last out on Nov. 27 in a performance that stamped him with most observers as at least second best of his crop behind undefeated Eclipse champion Uncle Mo, the latter expected to make his first start of the year in the Timely Writer overnight stakes at Gulfstream on Sat., Mar. 12.
To Honor and Serve is a son of 2006 Preakness Stakes (G1) hero Bernardini purchased for $575,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales and has won his last three starts impressively following a runner-up debut at Saratoga on Sept. 24 and won the one-mile Nashua Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct by four lengths three weeks before the Remsen.
To Honor and Serve faces seven rivals in the 65th edition of the Fountain of Youth, a race with a long history of producing Triple Crown race contenders, and the most formidable threats to the favorite appear to be Harvey Clarke, Craig Robertson III and Namcook Stable’s Soldat with jockey Alan Garcia aboard and Our Sugar Bear Stable’s Gourmet Dinner to be ridden for the first time by Ramon Dominguez.
Soldat made his reputation last season on turf winning the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) at Saratoga and finishing second in the Pilgrim Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park and second by a length in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
A $180,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by War Front, Soldat was given his chance to jump on the Derby trail in a nine-furlong ‘a other than’ allowance here on Jan. 21 and splashed home an 10 ¾ lengths winner on a ‘sloppy’ track. Soldat did well finishing second in two main track sprints at Belmont and Saratoga to begin his career.
Gourmet Dinner finished a good third behind Dialed In in the one-mile Holy Bull Stakes (G3) here on Jan. 30 for trainer Steve Standridge. The race marked his first start since a troubled fourth-place try in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (G1) run on the synthetic ‘Cushion’ track at Hollywood Park in mid-December, a race run after a lengthy delay for a shoe repair to the favorite.
A son of Montbrook, Gourmet Dinner was co-bred by Our Sugar Bear owner Bill Terrill and had won three of four starts at Calder to begin his career before capturing the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) by 2 ½ lengths at Delta Downs in Louisiana on Nov. 20 prior to the trip to California. Dominguez gets aboard for the first time after Sebastian Madrid had the mount in all of his previous seven starts.
Completing the field for the Fountain of Youth are Martin Schwartz’ Bowman’s Causeway, Ryan Curatolo; Thomas and Matt Conway’s El Grayling, Rajiv Maragh; Magdalena Racing’s Casper’s Touch, Alex Solis; Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s Shackleford, Javier Castellano; and Donald Dizney’s Racing Aptitude, Jose Lezcano.
Dancinginherdreams Bids for Redemption in Davona Dale
John Oxley’s 3-year-old filly Dancinginherdreams stamped herself a leading prospect for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) this spring winning her the one-mile Pocahontas Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs by 5 ¼ lengths on Oct. 31 after a flashy five-length debut victory at Keeneland for trainer John Ward, but was upset when second as the favorite in the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 30.
The roan/gray daughter of Tapit will likely be the favorite again in Saturday’s $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) going a mile with regular rider Julien Leparoux back in the saddle facing Hardacre Farm’s Forward Gal winner Pomeroys Pistol and seven other 3-year-old fillies.
A $330,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, Danciningherdreams raced in sixth of seven for the first half-mile in the Forward Gal and made a big run to fall three-quarters of a length short of Pomeroys Pistol, who dueled for the lead from the start and had the benefit of a race over the track, finishing second in the six-furlong Old Hat Stakes (G3) on Jan. 5.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez picks up the mount on Pomeroys Pistol, a Florida homebred for owner-trainer Amy Tarrant. The daughter of Pomeroy made three starts as a 2-year-old at Monmouth Park, winning her debut, finishing fifth in the Sorority Stakes and third in an allowance, but has obviously moved forward this season. Paco Lopez rode Pomeroys Pistol in her last three starts, but will miss Saturday’s card while continuing to recover from injuries sustained in a spill last Friday.
Another highly-accomplished contender in the field is be E. Paul Robsham Stable’s R Heat Lightning with John R. Velazquez aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher. The daughter of Trippi finished fourth in the Forward Gal as the second choice with trouble between horses early in the race in her first start since finishing second to undefeated 2-year-old Eclipse champion Awesome Feather in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.
A Florida homebred, R Heat Lightning won the Spinaway Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in her third start last summer and finished second in the Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park prior to the good try in the Breeders’ Cup when beaten 2 ¼ lengths by the winner.
Completing the field for the Davona Dale are Farnsworth Stable’s Mending Hearts, Jose Lezcano; Jacks or Better Farm’s Evil Queen, Jeffrey Sanchez; Lally Stable’s Oh Carole, Javier Castellano; Roger Chapman’s Bellaridge, Tony Farina; Melnyk Racing Stables’ Roxy Gap, Alex Solis; and Harold Queen’s Hot Summer, Joe Bravo.
Manicero Going for Fifth Straight Victory in Hutcheson
Leo Azpurua, Sr.’s Manicero has won four straight races since a third-pace debut at Calder in early October for trainer Leo Azpurua, Jr., the last two in stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, but faces his toughest career test yet at Gulfstream Park in the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2) going seven furlongs Saturday with regular rider Luis Saez.
A son of freshman sire Mass Media, Manicero was raised on Leo Sr’s farm for the breeder and the veteran horseman bought him privately last summer. After a troubled debut when he dropped the rider before the start near the gate, he went on to break his maiden at Calder by7 ¾ lengths in late October and score by more than eight lengths in the $125,000 Jack Price Juvenile there in November.
Manciero shipped to Tampa Bay Downs to win the $75,000 Inaugural Stakes by a length in late December and back again for a hard-fought half-length victory last out in the $75,000 Pasco Stakes going seven furlongs on Jan. 15.
Likely to vie for the favorite’s role with Manicero in the field of 10 3-year-olds entered in the58th running of the Hutcheson will be Darley Stable’s Crossbow with jockey Ramon Dominguez aboard for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin making his fourth career start.
A son of Bernardini, Crossbow finished third in his debut at Aqueduct in late November, and earned a trip south to Palm Meadows with a sharp three-length maiden score there on Jan. 2 with Dominguez aboard. In one start since Crossbow won a hard-fought three-length victory in an allowance race over the Gulfstream track and seven-furlong distance of the Hutcheson on Jan. 29.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out a pair of promising colts with a victory over the track at the meet with Javier Castellano to ride Let’s Go Stable’s Razmataz and J.R. Velazquez on E. Paul Robsham Stable’s Travelin Man. Razmataz is a son of Forest Wildcat that won an allowance on Jan. 12 in his fourth start and Travelin Man, by Trippi, won his debut and only outing on Jan. 8.
Completing the field for the Hutcheson are Robert Teel and Wesley Ward’s Madman Diaries, Jeffrey Sanchez; Peachtree Stable’s Flashpoint, Cornelio Velasquez; Harold Queen’s Little Drama, Joe Drama; Klaravich Stable and William Lawrence’s Leave of Absence, Rajiv Maragh; Zayat Stable’s Black N Beauty, Kent Desormeaux; and Mat Stables’ Royal Currier, Elvis Trujillo.