Fountain of Youth | Race Profile
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The Fountain of Youth Stakes
The first real major test for 3-year-olds on the Road to the Kentucky Derby is the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). The race is run annually in late February at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, FL just North of Miami Beach. The race is open to 3-year-olds going a distance of 1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs). It currently offers a purse of $400,000 and is the final stakes prep to the Florida Derby. The Fountain of Youth serves as an official prep race for the Kentucky Derby, and the top-4 finishers are awarded Derby qualifying points (50-20-10-5). The winner earns a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.
What makes the Fountain of Youth such an important race is not only does the winner get to run in the Kentucky Derby, but historically speaking it is a proven foundation for race horses that go on to be stallions. A typical stallion impregnates 100-125 mares a year, and a proven stallion can collect stud fees upwards of 10-plus years.
The Fountain of Youth was named for the mythical Florida spring that granted eternal youth. The race was inaugurated in 1945, and the 1 1/16 mile race record holder is 1978 winner Sensitive Prince (1:41.00). In 2005 the race was changed to a distance of 1 1/8 miles, and Eskenderaya (2010) set the record with a time of 1:48.87. In 2012, it was changed back to the 1 1/16 mile distance.
Jockey Jerry Bailey and current jockey John Velazquez have won the race a record four times, and trainer D. Wayne Lukas along with current trainer Todd Plecher have won the race a record three times.
In the last 20 years since 1998, just one Fountain of Youth winner has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, Orb (2013).
One other was victorious in a Triple Crown race when Union Rags (2012) won the Belmont Stakes. Thunder Gulch(1995) won the Fountain of Youth, Kentucky Derby (25-1) and Belmont Stakes.
Read more about the Fountain of Youth Stakes:
5 Fast Facts: Fountain of Youth Stakes
The 2019 Fountain of Youth Field & Morning Line Odds
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The Fountain of Youth Stakes Day Live Racing Schedule
Oaklawn Racing & Gaming
2705 Central Ave.
Hot Springs, AR
Additional Founatin of Youth Facts
The Fountain of Youth Stakes is a Grade II event held at Gulfstream Park in early March. The race is a Kentucky Derby prep race for 3-year-olds and with Derby points awarded to the top-4 finishers. The winner of the 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth receives 50 Derby points, and secures a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. The Road to the Kentucky Derby race also serves as a final stepping stone to Gulfstream’s definitive Kentucky Derby prep, the Florida Derby.
The Fountain of Youth race was named for the fabled Florida spring that granted eternal youth. Of course, the fountain was never found, but Derby riches have been realized by five horses who won the Fountain of Youth and then the Kentucky Derby. Tim Tam (1958), Kauai King (1966), Spectacular Bid (1979) and Thunder Gulch (1995) became "Dual Classic Winners." The first three won the Fountain of Youth, Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, and Thunder Gulch won the Fountain of Youth, Derby and the Belmont Stakes. The 1985 Fountain of Youth winner, Proud Truth, won that year's Breeders’ Cup Classic. Orb also won the Fountain of Youth and Kentucky Derby, but finished 4th in the Preakness and 3rd in the Belmont Stakes before retiring at the end of the year.
Spectacular Bid and 2010 winner Eskendereya both won the race by a record 8 ½ lengths. Sensitive Prince completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in a record 1:41.00 in 1978.
The Fountain of Youth winner has been named champion 3-year-old three times, most recently Thunder Gulch in 1995. The biggest upset in the Fountain of Youth was a monumental one, when Built for Pleasure paid a whopping $288.20 for a $2 win bet in 1996.
The Fountain of Youth Stakes was inaugurated in 1945 and run at various distances until 1953 when it was modified to 1 1/16 miles (8.5 furlongs). From 2005-2008 it was changed to a distance of 1 1/8 miles, and in 2009 it was run at one mile. In 2012, Gulfstream added a second finish line so the Fountain of Youth and other dirt races could be contested at 1 1/16 miles.
In identifying potential race winner, 10 of the last 11 Fountain of Youth winners raced at Gulfstream Park in their previous start, but only three of them ran in the Holy Bull Stakes. But the last two, Gunnevera and Mohaymen, have won both the Fountain of Youth and Holy Bull. Note too that the most recent 10 Fountain of Youth winners finished no worse than second in their previous start, and six of them were exiting victories.
Over the last decade, the Fountain of Youth winners have included: Gunnevera (2017, Mohaymen, Itsaknockout (DQ), Wildcat Red, Orb, Union Rags, Soldat, Eskendereya, Quality Road, Cool Coal Man and in 2007 Scat Daddy for trainer Todd Pletcher, who has captured three Fountain of Youths since 2007. Jockey John Velazquez has won the race four times since 2007 and twice with Pletcher. Both need one more victory to become the races all-time winningest jockey and trainer.