HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Tami Bobo’s Simplification circled the field on the turn into the homestretch and drew away in the stretch to capture Saturday’s $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, stamping himself as a serious contender for the 2022 Triple Crown.
The 76th running of the Fountain of Youth was featured during the 1/ST Saturday promotion between Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita, which host 15 stakes (14 graded stakes) between them. The 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds served as a prep for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G2) April 2 at Gulfstream.
A total of 14 winners of the Fountain of Youth have gone on to win the Florida Derby. There have also been 14 Fountain of Youth victors who have gone on to capture the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Trained by Antonio Sano, Simplification, who finished a courageous second behind highly regarded White Abarrio in the Feb. 5 Holy Bull (G3) following a troubled start, earned 50 qualifying points for this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) with his first graded-stakes win in his first race around two turns.
Simplification ($7) rated well off a fast early pace set by long shot Markhamian, who was chased by Dean Delivers and In Due Time along the backstretch during fractions of 23.77 and 48.27 seconds for a first half mile. As Dean Delivers took a tentative lead on the turn into the homestretch, Emmanuel, the 5-2 second betting choice who got away from the starting gate slowly and was forced to race extremely wide throughout the race, entered contention. However, neither were a match for Simplification, who made an impressive five-wide move on the final turn and swept to a decisive 3 ½-length victory under Jose Ortiz.
“For me I liked the trip. I talked to Jose this morning and said you don’t need to be in the front. The start was very important. If the horse has a good start and a safe trip, you won’t have a problem,” Sano said. “I wanted him to stay outside. Our horse in front with the speed horses won’t have a chance. The horse responded to Jose. He said, ‘Go,’ and it was all good.”
Simplification ran 1 1/16-miles in 1:44.04 while narrowly favored at 5-2, providing Sano with his second Fountain of Youth success. Sano saddled Gunnevera for a victory in the tradition-rich stakes in 2017.
“Five years ago here, we had [Post] No. 2 [with Gunnevera], and now we have No. 2 again. We repeat history,” Sano said.
Ortiz was riding Simplification, a son of Not This Time, for the first time but entered the Fountain of Youth with confidence in his mount.
“I knew he was going to be tough. I worked him and Antonio had a lot of confidence in him. He broke well. He pulled me into the race. He put me there,” Ortiz said. At the three-eighths pole, I decided to go wide and follow Emmanuel and he was there for me.”
By taking the final turn widest of all, Simplification avoided a two-horse spill, in which High Oak fell in traffic approaching the stretch, unseating jockey Junior Alvarado. Galt subsequently fell avoiding his Bill Mott stablemate, also unseating jockey Joel Rosario. Both horses escaped injury and walked back to the barn while Rosario reported back soreness and Alvarado was taken to a nearby hospital to evaluate a sore ankle.
In Due Time, who dropped back after chasing the early pace, made a strong late run to finish second, a length ahead O Captain, an 87-1 longshot ridden by Javier Castellano. Emmanuel faded to fourth following his extremely wide trip.
Simplification, who won for the third time in six career starts Saturday, was an impressive front-running winner of the one-turn mile Mucho Macho Man Jan. 1 at Gulfstream.
“When my horse broke bad last time I thought, ‘What a disaster.’ I learned that the horse can run in the front or from behind. He doesn’t have to be in the front,” Sano said. “The plan today for the race was that he didn’t need the front.”
Sano said Simplification would likely be pointed toward the Curlin Florida Derby (G1).
Other post-race quotes:
Trainer Kelly Breen (In Due Time, 2nd): “We’re waiting to see just like everybody with the worst that was just outside of us. Paco was happy with everything that happened. Maybe he got stuck a little bit stuck inside on the rail, didn’t have the perfectly clean, clean trip. But, to come running for second I think shows we’re a contender. We’re legit. First time stakes racing against this caliber of competition, I think he’s just getting better. I’m around him every day. He comes into the paddock, and you see these horses for a race of this magnitude, he fits. To me, to my eyes, he looks like a man. Maybe at the turn of the year he still looked like a boy. I’m proud of him.”
Jockey Paco Lopez (In Due Time, 2nd): “That was the position I wanted. I got stuck a little bit at the three-eighths pole and I had to wait, wait and when I saw an opening, I let him go. I know [Simplification] was the horse to beat. He gave me a kick and ran very good for the first time going two turns. I’m very happy. I think the horse is only getting better.”
Trainer Gustavo Delgado (O Captain, 3rd): “He ran super. Everybody’s happy. The horse is very good. In this moment, we have no pressure. He finished very hard. Gulfstream Park is our home. [The Florida Derby] is possible.”
Jockey Javier Castellano (O Captain, 3rd): “I had a difficult post today, and I did the best I could to save all the ground on the first turn. I didn’t want to rush the horse and be close. I rode with a lot of patience, and it paid off. He hit the board and finished third. That’s what we were looking for today. He made one run and I’m very satisfied the way he did it today.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher (Emmanuel, 4th): “He got squeezed [coming out of the gate] a little bit, dirt started hitting him in the face. And then he ran a long way, very wide all the way around. We were ahead of that [spill], so I don’t think that played a factor in our result. He got a lot of experience. I don’t think it was a bad race when you consider the break and the ground lost. He ran better than it looks on paper.”
Trainer Ken McPeek (Rattle N Roll): “I was hoping he would be fourth or better. He’s a big horse that needs some running, and he hadn’t run in five months. He needed the run. I’m glad he didn’t get involved in the spill. [Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.] said they fell just to his right and just missed him. He said he got tired the last eighth of a mile. I can go to the Louisiana Derby, Florida Derby or Blue Grass. I can run in any of the three and I’d feel good about any of the three.”
Trainer Dale Romans (Howling Time): “He was running all right. He had to jump over the horses that fell. He was behind them when it happened. I don’t know if he would have gotten a lot closer.”
Trainer Bill Mott (High Oak, Galt): “My horses walked off good. All I know is High Oak was in tight quarters.”
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo of Simplification by Lauren King