The 2021 Fountain of Youth takes center stage in the horse racing word this weekend. Taking place on Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream Park in Florida, the race stands as one of the first big prep races for the Kentucky Derby and the rest of the Triple Crown series. We’re here to help you make your picks with this 2021 Fountain of Youth betting preview.
We’re about at the time of the year where the horse racing season really kicks into gear. And one of the ways that it does that is through so-called “prep” races for the Kentucky Derby. They’re called prep races because they’re ostensibly meant to get the top 3-year-olds in the United States in running shape for the first Saturday in May, when the Kentucky Derby, the premiere race in the sport, takes place.
But you also have to remember that only the horses who perform well in these races will actually make it into the Derby. Horses are awarded points for how well they race in designated Derby Preps like the Fountain of Youth. As such, races like this take on an extra added importance.
Importance of the Fountain of Youth
Considering how early it’s run in the Derby Prep season, the Fountain of Youth actually has an impressive track record when it comes to its winners later performing well in the Derby. In 2012 and 2013, the race produced back-to-back Derby winners in Union Rags and Orb. Other top horses to emerge as Fountain of Youth winners that would later become great champions are Spectacular Bid, Thunder Gulch, and Proud Truth.
In other words, this is a big one on the trail to the Triple Crown. Ten three-year-olds will be lining up for the action on Saturday, many of whom stand pretty tall in terms of early Derby contenders. The action Saturday should be heated in its own right, but it also should provide an interesting glimpse into what might come later in the season.
In the following article, we’re here to help you sort through the favorites and long shots with our 2021 Fountain of Youth betting preview. We’ll take a quick look at all ten horses competing on Saturday afternoon. And then we’ll tell you who we believe will come out on top and stake their claim as a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender.
2021 Fountain of Youth Details
- When: Saturday, February 27, 2021, post time approximately 6:10 PM Eastern Time
- Where: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida
- Who: Ten three-year-old thoroughbred horses
- How Long: 1 1/16 miles
- Surface: Dirt
- Purse: $300,000
2021 Fountain of Youth Contenders
#1 Drain The Clock (Edgard Zayas, Saffie Joseph Jr.) 9-2
On the one hand, you could say that this horse comes into this race unbeaten. Drain The Clock to this point in his career has amassed four wins in five starts, including a dominating win in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream just a month ago. His only “loss” came when an equipment issue caused him to toss his rider in a race at Delta Downs, but he is a perfect four-for-four at Gulfstream.
But the big concern is that none of those races have been longer than seven furlongs to this point. Going around two turns for the first time against competition this impressive won’t be the easiest test. Still, those odds, even if they come down a little bit, make him quite intriguing.
#2 Prime Factor (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher) 5-1
It’s interesting that Prime Factor was the even-money favorite in the Grade 3 Holy Bull last month considering that he had only one race under his belt coming into it. He actually performed admirably by finishing third, as he just came up a bit empty in the stretch. And he’ll get a prime chance at revenge, as the two horses who beat him (Greatest Honour and Tarantino) are in this field as well.
An old handicapping trick is to take a horse who was heavily bet but came up short in their next race, especially if they don’t get as much betting attention the next time around. That is likely to be the case with Prime Factor on Saturday. Todd Pletcher, who has trained three past winners of the Fountain of Youth, could be in a good spot again.
#3 Sososubtle (Paco Lopez, Armando De La Cerda) 20-1
The connections are likely throwing their hat in the ring here as a way of seeing if their horse has the stuff for tougher competition. Sososubtle will be making just his third career start. And his previous two came in maiden races, meaning he is in for a big step up in competition.
He is one-for-one on the dirt and with Lasix, so there is some promise. Still, he might be a bit too green for this kind of competition. At best, Sososubtle will be running on for a possible spot in the Superfecta.
#4 Fire At Will (Kendrick Carmouche, Michael Maker) 5-1
This colt comes in on a three-race winning streak all of which came against stakes competition. Considering one of those wins came in the Breeders’ Cup, you would think he’d be getting more attention on the morning line. But that win for Fire At Will, as a 30 to 1 longshot, came in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
He did win his only career race on a dirt track, in an ungraded stakes at Saratoga in September that was taken off the turf. The connections obviously want to take a shot here to see if Fire At Will can be a threat on the dirt. It’s a much more lucrative road for a horse through the Triple Crown races than it is on the grass.
#5 Jirafales (Javier Castellano, Gustavo Delgado) 20-1
Jockey Javier Castellano won this race four years ago against Gunnevara and is back aboard what will likely be a big long shot. Jirafales did finish fifth in the Holy Bull, which included several of the horses in this field. But he was a distant fifth and never a factor in the race.
Distance concerns loom large here. Jiarafales won at six furlongs in his debut but appeared to be a bit lost at the longer distance of the Holy Bull. Big improvement is needed here for him to contend.
#6 King’s Ovation (Corey Lanerie, Dale Romans) 20-1
Three years ago, trainer Dale Romans saddled a surprising Fountain of Youth winner in Promises Fulfilled. He’ll try to work his magic again here with another one who figures to go off at long odds. Like Drain The Clock, he is finding out if he can handle two turns.
King’s Ovation actually finished best of the rest behind Drain The Clock last time out. He made a good effort in that one, and this will be his second time off the layoff. Maybe he’s in the mix for a show spot, but no better than that.
#7 Tarantino (Tyler Gaffalione, Rodolphe Brissett) 8-1
Formerly trained by Bob Baffert, this colt named after the famed director is trying the dirt for only the second time in his career. He was solid on the grass to start his career with a pair of wins and a place. In his first dirt start, he managed a distant second behind a romping Greatest Honour.
The morning line odds suggest that the oddsmakers believe this horse is more of a minor award player than a threat to win. He could prove them wrong with another little bounce forward. It’s a good sign that he’s never been worse than second in four career races.
#8 Greatest Honour (Jose Ortiz, Shug McGaughey) 8-5
The Florida sun has done wonders for this colt who is now considered one of the top Derby hopefuls. That wasn’t the case last year as he strung together three straight near-misses in maiden races in New York. Greatest Honour came to Gulfstream in Florida and chalked up his maiden win right away.
But his real coming out party was in the Grade 3 Holy Bull, when he absolutely dusted the field with a sweeping move on the final turn. As a result, he is the heavy favorite in this one, and those odds might drop once the betting begins. There might be some concerns about a letdown, however, which could mean that there isn’t much value here.
#9 Tiz Tact Toe (Rajiv Maragh Jr., Robert Hess Jr.) 50-1
Well, it would certainly be a memorable way to get a maiden victory if Tiz Tact Toe could pull off the upset. It’s not likely to happen though. In three races so far, he has done no better than fourth.
This will be his second time in the Hess barn and also his second on the dirt. But the fact that he hasn’t been able to beat maidens to this point doesn’t bode well for his chances here. He’ll most likely be up the track when it’s over.
#10 Papetu (Junior Alvarado, Antonio Sano) 15-1
Both jockey and trainer have won this race before. Junior Alvarado rode Mohaymen to victory in 2016, and Antonio Sano saddled Gunnevara a year later. They’ll try to hook up here with a horse that has more stakes experience than anyone else in the field.
Unfortunately, that experience has been mostly as an also-ran. In his three graded stakes efforts to date, Papetu has done no better than fourth, which came in the Holy Bull. At some point, the results have to start getting better before we can believe in him.
The 2021 Fountain of Youth Pick
We like the value of Prime Factor with a bounce-back effort to pull off the upset. Look for Tarantino, Greatest Honour and Sososubtle to round out the Superfecta. Go with 2-7-8-3 at your favorite horse racing betting sites.
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