Kentucky Derby Prep Recap – Impressive Fountain of Youth + Saudi Cup! – Super Screener
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Kentucky Derby Prep Recap – Impressive Fountain of Youth + Saudi Cup!

Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Fountain of Youth (G2)

What a performance here by #10 Ete Indien, who embarrassed this field by striking to the front and then proceeded to cut fast fractions before extending his lead with every stride while in hand to win this, easily. This is a very fast horse and it was a devastatingly impressive victory.

Check out his last 3 running lines now:

He has essentially run the same race 3 times in a row, nearly throwing off unprecedented 100+ BRIS Pace/Speed Ratings throughout in every start. That is just crazy good, and he is bred to get even more ground! It will be really interesting to see if he can replicate or even move forward off these races in the Florida Derby when they stretch out to the 1 1/8 miles distance. 

This horse reminds me a lot of Firing Line, who finished 2nd in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Check out his highlighted prep races prior to the Kentucky Derby:

Another handicapping lesson here is something the Super Screener has used as a screening criteria for a number of years now, which is the “Pletcher 3 year-old long shot for 2nd factor. Todd Pletcher-trained, Candy Tycoon, edged out 3 other closers to narrowly grab 2nd place at long odds of 23-1. If ranked one or two places higher by the Super Screener, we could have made a case to include him in 2nd in wagers. If, for example, Pletcher’s Gouverneur Morris goes off at big odds in his next start, it will be good to keep in mind this “Pletcher long-shot in 2nd” factor.

Saudi Cup

RIYADH,SAUDI ARABIA-FEB 29: Maximum Security #7,ridden by Luis Saez,wins the Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack on February 29,2020 in Riyadh,Saudi Arabia. Kaz Ishida/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

The inaugural running of the $20 million Saudi Cup lived up to its hype as it attracted several of the best US-based stars. In the end, it was Maximum Security, who – once and for all – ended all doubt as to who the #1 dirt horse in the world is. He successfully evaded the bobbing and weaving of a tiring Mucho Gusto (or was all that movement intentional in trying to deny Maximum Security a better finish?) and earned the hard fought win.

While Maximum Security was designated as a “B” horse by the Super Screener, he was considered a “Vulnerable Favorite” given the low price relative to the other talent in the field. We just got that wrong but did include Maximum Security in both the win and place spots of suggested wagers.

Our Top Board Hitter pick, Midnight Bisou went against most of the pundits’ view of this filly’s ability to effectively compete here. Based on the way she distributes energy and how brilliantly she was training coming into this race and got over the local surface, we were confident in a great showing. She did not disappoint, making Maximum Security work hard to hold off her late charge for a game 2nd place at odds of 10-1… another super performance by this Asmussen-trained filly.

Tacitus did what Tacitus does…can run all day long but can’t seen to accelerate and had every chance here to run them down getting to within a few lengths of the winner with 2 furlongs to go. He’s just going to have to find easier company while going longer to find the Winner’s Circle again…very frustrating as he was another that has matured considerably since his last start and was training brilliantly. 

Baffert’s pair of Mucho Gusto, and especially McKinzie, disappointed. You could tell in the pre-race interview, Bob was not exuding confidence. While he said it won’t be the surface that denies his charges a top performance, one has to wonder if the softer, fairer-playing surface had something to do with it. Let’s see how that pair comes back in their next starts.

Canadian Turf (G3)

This was a classic pace collapse type of race with Gidu setting fiery fractions of :21 4/5, :44 1/5 and 1:08 1/5 before folding late finishing 5th just over a length behind the winner which was a startling good performance considering the blistering pace that was set. However, he got the job done for his stablemate Sombeyay who really ran a super race in his own right tracking that hot pace and being the only one to not only survive but win. Note what we said about this duo before the race:

#9 – Gidu – PaceWill set the pace and provide stablemate #5 Sombeyay with a target throughout just as was the case in their last workout together. Speed is holding pretty well on this turf course and the rails are out which only helps. Can hold on for a piece…use some under.

Here’s what the Super Screener said about the winner:

#5 Sombeyay trained by Todd Pletcher was put away from Oct. 2018 to May 2019. The light went on in the Monmouth dirt sprint, then Pletcher moved him to the turf finding a home going longer. His August start was really a very game effort against a salty bunch. After that 6-month layoff he fired with a super impressive effort tracking that lightning fast pace and then going on to find more before yielding to the pace advantaged closer #1 Hay Dakota, in the final yards. Like the switch to Prat, too.

The A/C combination hit again as it so often does in these turf stakes races per our tracking of results. That suggested Trifecta wager not only hit but paid twice due to the dead heat for 3rd between Hay Dakota and the 50-1 horse-for-course, long shot, Louder Than Bombs for a total of $354.

Gulfstream Park Mile (G2)

The Super Screener lone “A” horse, Mr Freeze, got the job done winning impressively drawing away after tracking swift fractions throughout…finally giving trainer Dale Romans some vindication. According to the Super Screener, other than 3 horses (i.e. Do Share, Forever Mo and Rare Form) it was anybody’s race for the remaining Superfecta spots. In the end, suggested Exacta and Trifecta tickets scored for over $352

It is important to note that these one-turn mile affairs may be what Mr Freeze has wanted all along. You can be sure he’ll be pointed to races featuring this type of configuration going forward.

Mac Diarmida (G2)

While it was great to see Zulu Alpha capture this race now two years in a row as an obvious “A” horse, it would have been far better to catch a bit more value here. Spooky Channel, our Top Long Shot and Win pick in the race, looked good at the mile marker, was shuffled back to 8th before coming on again but he was way back at that point and had no chance at all.

One handicapping lesson to take out of this race: Even with a slow pace projected for this marathon distance race (which is not what materialized with Morocco going out and winging it on the front end cutting fast fractions), horses with a good turn of foot still get the edge over horses favored by the pace set up even when they are walking on the front end.

It’s a huge weekend of prep racing this coming Saturday with what will essentially be Kentucky Derby “win and you’re in” races now that we have moved into the 50 pointers. It is prep racing action from coast to coast as Aqueduct will host the G3 Gotham Stakes while down in Florida, we’ll take in the much anticipated G2 Tampa Bay Derby. Not to be outdone, Santa Anita will host their traditional West Coast penultimate prep, the G2 San Felipe Stakes which is back this year after a 2019 hiatus.  In addition to these spotlight prep races, all three tracks will feature rich under cards of full-field stakes races. Great time of year to be a horse player!

Until this coming weekend, Go Fast and Win!

Mike