One of the traditional early Triple Crown prep races in Florida is the $250,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). Contested at various distances over its history, this year's edition was run at 1 mile around 1 turn of the Gulfstream Park main track. A field of ten 3-year-olds went to post on a sunny Saturday afternoon, with Capt. Candyman Can sent off as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite exiting a victory in the Hutcheson Stakes. In to challenge the son of Candy Ride included 4-1 second choice This Ones for Phil, winner of the Sunshine Millions Dash last time out for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., and 9-2 third choice Theregoesjojo, winner of an allowance on January 10 after finishing fourth in the Bashford Manor.
As expected This Ones for Phil took the lead immediately under jockey Edgar Prado, clicking off fractions of 23.83, 45.55, and 1:09.40 over the fast track while being stalked by Quality Road down the long backstretch run. At the top of the stretch, This Ones for Phil tired to eventually finish fifth, allowing Quality Road to easily take over the lead at the 3/16 pole. Theregoesjojo, who was seventh early, put in a strong rally late but was left with too much ground to make up, as Quality Road cruised under the line 4 1/4 lengths in front in a time of 1:35.01. It was another 4 lengths back to late-closing Beethoven third, with favorite Capt. Candyman Can finishing another length back in fourth.
Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I knew we would have a lot of speed, but the trick was to settle him in there and make him relax. He was ready to run and run today. The closer we got to the finish the stronger I felt we were getting. It's always special to win, but when you can pull off back-to-back (stakes) it's even more special. It was a great day."
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens added, "I was glad to see him break sharp and then settle in. He came out of his last race with a little cough, but has trained great since then. We've thought a lot of him from his first start. He's got the pedigree to go on, but a one-turn mile is still basically a sprint and a lot different than going two turns. We'll talk it over before making a decision on what's next. I'm a New York guy so the Wood might be one option. On the other hand, he's trained great over the track down here (Palm Meadows) and weather isn't likely to interrupt his schedule, so the Florida Derby is naturally a possibility. We missed the first deadline (for Triple Crown) nominations, but we'll put it up in March. It will just cost a little more."
Trainer Ken McPeek of 2nd place finisher Theregoesjojo said, "We are really happy. We didn't lay it all down for this race. He wasn't 100% cranked and we're excited about going forward from here. I thought he ran a great race and lost to a very good horse. And believe me, the horse that won is one very impressive horse."
Trainer Ian Wilkes of 4th place finisher and beaten favorite Capt. Candyman Can said, "I thought he ran good. I wasn't disappointed. Of course, you always hope to win a race like this, but the main thing we wanted to see was that he had the talent to keep moving forward. We will see how he comes back, evaluate him and talk to the owners."