There are several elements you can expect from this week’s top Kentucky Derby prep race, the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The track will be fast, Hall-of-Fame jockey John Velasquez will figure in the mix, and local knowledge is golden knowledge.

Jockey John Velasquez-Fountain of Youth Mainstay
Hall of Fame jockey John Velasquez is usually a thumbs-up option in the Fountain of Youth. He’s won this Derby prep five times in 12 starts. (Image: Al Bello/Getty Images)

These factors are all givens in the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, which offers 50-20-10-5 Derby Qualifying points to the top four finishers. Most of those finishers use this race as a stepping-stone to next month’s Grade 1 Florida Derby.

There are other givens in this race, which has produced 13 Kentucky Derby winners including, most recently, Orb in 2013. Out of 96 horses to run both races since 1980, Orb is one of only five horses to win both.

Orb wasn’t favored to win, which brings us to perhaps the most important trend of the Fountain of Youth. Only twice in the last 10 years (Soldat in 2011 and Mohaymen in 2016) has the betting favorite won. That doesn’t bode well for Dennis’ Moment, the current 2/1 favorite.

Trends are Poor for Dennis’ Moment

Should Dennis’ Moment’s odds drop further, the trend becomes even worse. The betting favorite has been odds-on five times in the last eight years. Four of those odds-on favorites lost, with 9/10 Upstart in 2015 drawing an asterisk here for crossing the finish line first, but being disqualified for interference.

Even putting aside his rather manic-depressive history, that’s not Dennis’ Moment’s only problem with history. In the last 10 years, only two eventual winners were making their 3-year-old debut, which the Dale Romans-trainee is doing Saturday.

This doesn’t mean going deep in the weeds and throwing a dart at a long shot. Eight of the last 10 winners went off at 5/1 or less, which turns attention to As Seen On Tv (9/2).

Stay Local

Before Chance It was a late scratch due to his outside post, he and As Seen On Tv factored into another trend: local knowledge. Eight of the last 10 winners prepped for the Fountain of Youth with a January or February race at Gulfstream. Chance It beat As Seen On Tv by a head in the Jan. 4 Mucho Macho Man Stakes, a non-grade stakes race.

As Seen On Tv has a strike against him aside from the tactical — tackling a distance he’s never seen before. Aside from that, he’s racing in a graded stakes for the first time, and only one winner in the last decade (Orb, again) has won the Fountain of Youth in his graded-stakes debut.

Velasquez is Money

The other obstacle those horses – and every other one but Shotski (10/1) — face is not having Velasquez aboard. Velasquez is about as sure a bet as there is in this race, having won it five times, including last year aboard Kentucky Derby runner-up Code of Honor.

In his 12 Fountain of Youth starts, Velasquez has five wins (Orb was one of them), one second, and three thirds, meaning his mounts hit the board 75% of the time.

That is about as glaring an endorsement for including Shotski in your exotics as there is.

Velasquez aside, it also brings us to a horse that checks most of those boxes, and a horse definitely worth consideration: Ete Indien (8/1). The pace-setting colt owns graded-stakes experience at Gulfstream, finishing second to Tiz the Law in the Grade 3 Holy Bull earlier this month, where he was 11 ½ lengths clear of third-place Toledo.

A repeat of his 113 Equibase Speed Figure in that race would put him right in the mix here, although the upgraded competition and outside position (11) complicate matters for jockey Florent Geroux. Along with good value, Ete Indien has the profile, pedigree, and predictability seen in previous Fountain of Youth winners.

2020 Fountain of Youth Odds

  1. Candy Tycoon (15/1)
  2. Makabim (SCR)
  3. Masterday (30/1)
  4. The Falcon (50/1)
  5. Dennis’ Moment (2/1)
  6. As Seen On Tv (9/2)
  7. Country Grammer (15/1)
  8. Gear Jockey (20/1)
  9. Liam’s Lucky Charm (15/1)
  10. Shotski (10/1)
  11. Ete Indien (8/1)
  12. Chance It (SCR)

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