‘Lucky’ Mott Has Two Chances in G2 Fountain of Youth
Brown Doubles Up for G2 Davona Dale
‘Versatile’ Emmanuel Returns for G3 Canadian Turf
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will seek to make an already lucrative Championship Meet even more fruitful Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he is slated to saddle Frank Fletcher Racing Operations Inc.'s Rocket Can and Peachtree Stable's Shadow Dragon for starts in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2).
The Fountain of Youth, a dress rehearsal for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1), will be featured on a 14-race program with nine stakes, eight graded. The 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds will offer 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby to the winner.
Mott is atop the purses-won standings for trainers with $2,691,095 with huge assists from Art Collector, who captured the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 28 and Rocket Can and Shadow Dragon, who finished 1-2 in the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 4.
“Even a blind sow can find an acorn once in a while,” Mott quipped. “We have been lucky, I guess. You have to have the right horses and we have been lucky enough to have a few of the right horses to take over there.”
There was nothing lucky about Rocket Can’s triumph in the Holy Bull, in which he was forced to race four-wide under Junior Alvarado throughout the 1 1/16-mile stop on the road to the April 1 Florida Derby. The son off Into Mischief had every reason to weaken late, but he kicked in to open a lead in the stretch and held gamely to prevail over Shadow Dragon, who rallied from last under Jose Ortiz at 34-1 odds.
The water gets a lot deeper in the Fountain of Youth as the Mott 3-year-olds will be facing Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte, last year’s Eclipse Award winning 2-year-old colt. Forte, making his first start of the season, is the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the field of 10.
“Obviously, Forte is a champion, so, naturally, he deserves to get all the attention,” Mott said. “We will run the race and hope we are good enough to get a little attention afterwards.”
Rocket Can notched his first graded-stakes victory in the Holy Bull while scoring as the 5-2 second choice and collected his second win in five starts.
Shadow Dragon, a New York-bred son of Army Mule, was making only his third career start in the Holy Bull after breaking his maiden at first asking and finishing off the board in a stakes against state-breds.
“That was an interesting finish for him,” Mott said. “He ran extremely well.”
Shadow Dragon is 12-1 on the Fountain of Youth morning line; Rocket Can is 8-1.
Trainer Brown’s Busy Day Includes Pair of Fillies in Davona Dale (G2)
Klaravich Stables Inc.’s Undervalued Asset, second to Red Carpet Ready in the Forward Gal (G3) Feb. 4, will look to hand the undefeated filly her first defeat when they meet again in Saturday’s $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The one-mile Davona Dale for 3-year-old fillies is part of a blockbuster 14-race Fountain of Youth (G2) day program featuring nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.85 million in purses. The Davona Dale offers a total of 100 qualifying points (50-20-15-10-5) for the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1) to the top five finishers.
Undervalued Asset picked up eight points for her runner-up finish in the seven-furlong Forward Gal, beaten 2 ¼ lengths in her season and stakes debut. The bay daughter of champion sprinter Speightstown was an 8 ¼-length debut winner in a six-furlong maiden special weight Nov. 10 at Aqueduct.
“It was a distance I wanted to run,” trainer Chad Brown said of the Forward Gal. “It was a tough race, but I could not get an allowance race at the right distance, so I threw her into a stake and she handled it fine. More distance will be fine for her. I have been looking to stretch her out and see if we can get her on the Oaks trail.”
Undervalued Asset drew Post 5 in a field of 10 and will be ridden for the third straight race by Championship Meet leader Irad Ortiz Jr.
Brown will also be represented in the Davona Dale by CHP Racing’s Guns n’ Graces, entered to face stakes competition for the first time in her sophomore debut. By 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, winner of the 2018 Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream, she raced twice at 2 finishing second in a one-mile maiden special weight Nov. 4 at Aqueduct before graduating by 3 ½ lengths going a mile and 40 yards Dec. 23 at Tampa Bay Downs.
“She is going to have to step up, speed figure-wise. She is an honest filly who is very consistent with her training. She looks like a horse that will continue to improve with age and experience,” Brown said. “Physically, she is in the process of maturing. I like what I have seen in the last few weeks. Cutting back to one turn … I don’t know … that might be one thing that works against her, actually. But there are not a lot of options that really suit her. It is a graded-stake and possibly a chance to get some black type and establish her value.”
Joel Rosario has the call on Guns n’ Graces from Post 6.
Brown has entered a total of 14 horses in nine races Saturday, 11 of them in six stakes, including Rodeo Creek Racing’s Blazing Sevens, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth.
“I don’t generally race a lot in January and February anywhere. I take the time to rest my horses,” Brown said. “We are just starting to gear up now on these important stakes weekends, and, hopefully, it’s the beginning of a good season. We will see.”
‘Versatile’ Emmanuel Returns for G3 Canadian Turf
A year after arriving in South Florida as one of Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher’s top 3-year-old prospects on dirt, Siena Farm and WinStar Farm’s Emmanuel returns to Gulfstream Park this weekend as a multiple graded-stakes winner on the turf.
Emmanuel is the likely favorite in the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) for older horses going 1 1/16 miles, one of eight graded stakes on the Fountain of Youth (G2) Day program. The More Than Ready colt made his stakes debut in the 2022 Fountain of Youth, finishing fourth as the second choice for his first career loss.
“He’s been a versatile horse,” Pletcher said. “He really seems to have found his specialty on the turf.”
Following the Fountain of Youth, Emmanuel ran third in the Blue Grass (G1) before being moved to the grass, over which he won the Pennine Ridge (G2) at Belmont Park in his turf debut. He made one more start in the Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1) before going to the sidelines.
Emmanuel went unraced for six months before making a triumphant return in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay (G3) Feb. 4, coming from off the pace to win by 1 ¾ lengths under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who gets the return call in the Canadian Turf.
“Really strong comeback race,” Pletcher said. “He’s trained really well since then. [He’s had a] couple good breezes [and] it seems like he’s really just doing well at the moment.”
Emmanuel drew Post 3 in a field of 10 for the Canadian Turf and will carry topweight of 124 pounds, yielding from two to six pounds to his rivals.
“You’re always concerned if they’re going to be able to repeat that performance, so that’s why we were kind of monitoring him closely,” Pletcher said. “But the way he’s breezed since the race, it seems like he’s really maintained form. We felt good about coming back here.”
Pletcher will also send out Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Steady On in the Canadian Turf. The 4-year-old Pioneerof the Nile colt is seeking his first stakes victory after running second by a half-length in the Gio Ponti and missing by a nose in the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream. He is coming off a fourth in the one mile and 70-yard Carousel Club Handicap Jan. 28. Each of the last two races have come over Gulfstream’s all-weather Tapeta course.
“We’re looking forward to getting him back on the turf,” Pletcher said. “He handled the synthetic fine, but he just seems to be at his best on the grass. I think the distance is ideal.”
Pletcher previously won the Canadian Turf with Sombeyay in 2020, Doubles Partner in 2012, Twilight Meteor in 2009, champion English Channel in 2006 and Newfoundland in 2004.