This year's edition of the Fountain of Youth has drawn an outstanding cast and will create or destroy several Kentucky Derby dreams (hopefully, not mine). Lets look at the field.
1. Code of Honor
He immediately broke his maiden on the engine against a nice group at the Spa last summer going six furlongs. He stood out because he is regally bred to run all day at any distance, but he won that sprint wire to wire. Thrown into the Champagne off that maiden win, he stumbled at the start, was shuffled back to last, then made an electrifying sweep past everyone but the winner to get second. The buzz had begun!
He missed some training with some minor physical issues and finally showed up in the Mucho Macho Man at this track in January. He ran a clunker and finished 4th as the favorite. A closer look at that race shows he slammed into Gladiator King coming out of the gate, dropped back to last seven or eight lengths back, then made a four wide middle move into the fastest part of the race and hung. He draws the rail in here and I hope Johnny V doesn't push him early. He should sit the inside stalkers trip and mow them down in the lane. It is put up or shut-up time if he wants to make the Derby. He is my pick to win!
2. Epic Dreamer
He almost wired the Holy Bull at this track on February 2nd, but fell back to 4th in the last eighth of a mile. He will be compromised by the other speed in this race and seems unlikely to clear as easily as he did in the Holy Bull.
He will be a pace factor in here, but so will a half dozen others. He has a chance to hit the board if he lays off the other speed, but I think he's more likely to vie for the front and do another stretch fade.
3. Gladiator King
He collided with my pick at the start of the Mucho Macho Man where he ran a speed and fade, then got buried in the Holy Bull. I give him no chance.
4. Bourbon War
He broke his maiden at first asking in a mile race at Aqueduct in a field of nine when he gobbled them up late. This is a nice horse. He ran a credible 4th to Maximus Mischief in the Remsen, then easily passed his NW1 test at this track in his last at a mile and a sixteenth on January 18th. Now he returns to tougher competition.
He has a big shot in here because he will be sitting at the back while all the speeds try to tackle Hidden Scroll on the front end. He will certainly be running by the fading speed horses in the stretch and should be on all your tickets!
Easily broke his maiden at first asking in race horse time, then followed it up with an even faster win in the Nashua. This horse could be any kind. He does not need the lead which will work to his advantage with all the speed in here. Hard not to like him a little bit, but I am committed to the one horse. Beware the undefeated horse! He will be on my tickets!
He has done nothing wrong while racking up a half million against very stiff competition. He was 3rd in the Juvenile, won a grade 2 in his last, and has the right running style for this race. I'm taking a stand against him (you can't bet them all), but he has a nice resume.
7. Hidden Scroll
The wild card! His maiden breaker was one of those races where you just say, "WOW!" If he can repeat that race here, they may all be running for 2nd. Still, I've learned over the years to be skeptical of those flashy front end wins, especially when they are in the mud. I anticipate a very fast pace in here and it's asking an awful lot for this lightly raced horse to put away all the speed and still hang on against the closers. I'm going to pass.
8. Global Campaign
He's two for two at this track and undefeated, but this is a tall task from this post with all the speed in this race. I just think he's too wide on an inside speed favoring track and he hasn't shown the ability to rate yet. I'm going to pass.
He has been soundly beaten by both Bourbon War and Signalman and I see nothing that indicates he's ready to reverse that trend. No thanks.
10. Frosted Grace
He will be a pace factor, especially since he'll have to gun it from out here, but with Hidden Scroll to his inside along with all the other speed, I can't see it. I'll pass.
11. Union's Destiny
They're kidding, right?
This figures to be a bang up race. There are five or six front end types that will insure a fast pace (assuming that Hidden Scroll doesn't just run away from them) and some high quality stalkers and closers. I'm betting that Honor Code redeems himself here (if not, it's back to the drawing board for a Derby horse). I'll be betting the one horse to win and using 4-5-6 in all the exotics. Good luck to all who are playing!