Kentucky Derby Top 10: Fountain of Youth is can't-miss TV

February 27th, 2020

A handful of acclaimed Kentucky Derby (G1) contenders will square off in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, which sets up a much-anticipated showdown with 85 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification points on the line.

Dennis’ Moment, Chance It, As Seen On Tv, and Ete Indien are the four betting favorites in the 1 1/16-mile race, which attracted a dozen entries.

But heading into the weekend, only one of the Fountain of Youth favorites is ranked in my Kentucky Derby Top 10. I hope when the dust settles at Gulfstream, I’ll have placed my faith in the right colt.

Here’s how I see things shaping up, with 65 days until the Run for the Roses.

1. Nadal

With the March 14 Rebel (G2) his tentative target, Nadal returned to the work tab Sunday. He sprinted  through 6 furlongs in 1:11.80. It was the fastest work of the morning by three-fifths of a second, a strong move as trainer Bob Baffert tightens the screws on this talented prospect.

2. Tiz the Law

The Holy Bull (G3) winner disappeared from the work tab for a couple of weeks, with Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form reporting the colt pulled a shoe and missed a bit of training. Setbacks are never ideal on the Derby trail, but since Tiz the Law isn’t scheduled to run until the Mar. 28 Florida Derby (G1), he has plenty of time to bounce back.

3. Sole Volante

Regular rider Luca Panici is out with an injury, so Florent Geroux will be in the saddle when Sole Volante contests the Mar. 7 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). With that target in mind, Sole Volante took to the turf course at Palm Meadows for a workout Wednesday. He clocked 7 furlongs in a snappy 1:23 flat.

4. Charlatan

The son of Speightstown returned to the Santa Anita work tab just nine days after his brilliant maiden win and blazed a bullet half-mile in :47.80 Tuesday morning. Although Speightstown was a champion sprinter, he’s sired several high-level winners running 1 1/4 miles, including Travers (G1) victor Golden Ticket, Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Haynesfield, Belmont Derby (G1) winner Force the Pass, and American Oaks (G1) victress Competitionofideas.

5. Thousand Words

He fired off a sharp, stamina-building workout Monday at Santa Anita, where he covered 7 furlongs in 1:26.80. The Mar. 7 San Felipe (G2) could be next on the agenda.

6. Authentic

He joined stablemate Thousand Words on the Monday work tab at Santa Anita, where he breezed 6 furlongs in 1:12.80. Baffert has so many Derby contenders to juggle, it’s possible Thousand Words and Authentic will square off in the San Felipe.

7. As Seen On Tv

He drew post 6 in the Fountain of Youth and figures to get a perfect trip stalking the speed. The son of Lookin At Lucky is bred to relish running long, so a stretch out around two turns should help him deliver a career-best effort.

8. Cafe Pharoah

Cafe Pharoah overcame a slow start in the Hyacinth S. at Tokyo Racecourse to rally and win comfortably. In the process he ascended to the top of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

The best part of Cafe Pharoah’s performance was his fast finish. He sprinted the final 600 meters in :35.20. This son of American Pharoah has shown flashes of serious talent and is already proven running long. He led all the way to win his debut going 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) at Nakayama.

9. Gouverneur Morris

You have to admire how well Gouverneur Morris performed when he came in second in the 2019 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. The son of Constitution raced significantly closer to the early pace than the other superfecta finishers, yet still managed to dig deep and hold off future Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable for the runner-up spot.

10. Silver Prospector

With eight starts under his belt, Silver Prospector is one of the most experienced runners on the Derby trail. But with the Rebel (G2) as his next target, it looks like Silver Prospector will pack in four winter/spring prep runs for the Derby.

Experience is beneficial up to a point, but few Derby winners have utilized such an ambitious prep schedule in recent years.