Pletcher Dominates G2 Fountain of Youth Nominations

February 20, 2024

Todd Pletcher is seeking his fifth Fountain of Youth victory (Coglianese)

David Joseph/Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— Eleven horses from Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, led by champion Fierceness and fellow graded stakes winners Agate Road and Locked, are among 30 nominations to the $400,000 Coolmore Fountain of Youth (G2) for 3-year-olds Saturday, March 2 at Gulfstream Park.

The 78th running of the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, next stop on Gulfstream’s road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 30, headlines a blockbuster program featuring nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.85 million in purses.

Repole Stable’s Fierceness clinched the 2023 2-year-old male championship with his dominant 6 ¼-length triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The City of Light colt rallied to be third after a troubled start in his sophomore debut, the Feb. 3 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream. D. J. Stable and Robert Cotran’s Hades, front-running two-length winner of the Holy Bull, is also nominated.

Other nominees exiting the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull are Dancing Groom, third at odds of 37-1 in the 2023 Champagne (G1), and Otello, winner of the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Jan. 1 at Gulfstream, who respectively finished fifth and sixth.

Repole and Pletcher are also represented by Bail Us Out, a maiden winner over Gulfstream’s all-weather Tapeta course Feb. 3 in his second start. Repole shares ownership with St. Elias Stable in Agate Road, winner of the Pilgrim (G2) on grass last fall that most recently ran second in the Feb. 10 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, and Triple Espresso, who graduated at fourth asking Jan. 20 on the Gulfstream turf.

Locked captures the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) Oct. 7 at Keeneland (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm’s Locked missed a planned start in the Sam Davis with a fever and has yet to launch his 3-year-old campaign. The son of Gun Runner won two of four starts at 2 including a popular half-length victory in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, and was third as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Other Pletcher nominees include Gulfstream maiden special weight winners Born Noble, Cardinale, and Speak Easy, the latter impressing by 1 ¾ lengths in his Jan. 27 unveiling on the undercard of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series program.

Pletcher is a four-time Fountain of Youth winner, including last year with champion Forte. His other victories came with Itsaknockout (2015), Eskendereya (2010) and Scat Daddy (2007).

West Paces Racing, R.A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stable’s Dornoch is expected to kick off his 3-year-old season in the Fountain of Youth. The Danny Gargan trainee has been first or second in four starts, ending 2023 with wins in a 1 1/16-mile Keeneland maiden event and the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct.

Frank DeLuca’s Frankie’s Empire and Vicente Stella Stables’ Le Dom Bro are nominated after finishing 1-2, respectively, in the seven-furlong Swale Feb. 3 at Gulfstream, separated by 3 ½ lengths. Brad Grady and David Grund’s Seminole Chief won the FSS In Reality Dec. 2 at Gulfstream and exits a troubled ninth in the 1 1/8-mile Withers (G3) Feb. 3 at muddy Aqueduct.

Also prominent among Fountain of Youth nominees are Courtlandt Farms’ Conquest Warrior, who overcame trouble to win a one-mile maiden special weight Jan. 13 at Gulfstream by a half-length; favored Sam Davis winner No More Time; Scatify, third in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) Feb. 3 at Santa Anita; Sugar Boy, a Group 1 and 2 winner in Puerto Rico yet to make his stateside debut; and Victory Avenue, second as the favorite behind Speak Easy at Gulfstream.

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