Super Saturdays have created feast-or-famine situations at Gulfstream. Some weeks are stakes-laden while others offer only one or two nondescript features. This Saturday's card, headed by the Grade II Fountain of Youth, presents a banquet of thoroughbred stars.
The Fountain of Youth, second only in importance to the Florida Derby, is enough to make any card special. Having undefeated Mohaymen, the strong favorite in the most recent Kentucky Derby future wager, heading the six-horse field adds to the luster.
Mohaymen, a $2.2 million purchase as a yearling, has lived up to expectations. He's four-for-four, three of them graded stakes. His romp over some accomplished runners in last month's Holy Bull, at the mile and a sixteenth distance of the Fountain of Youth, was eye-popping. After breaking slowly, he rated behind horses down the backstretch until jockey Junior Alvarado could contain him no longer. Going toward the far turn, Mohaymen bulled his way between the early leaders, took command then just galloped home to win by an arrogantly easy 3 ½ lengths.
He might have to be that good again to earn the winner's share of the $400,000 purse. Two of his rivals also are undefeated. Awesome Banner is three-for-three by a combined 19 lengths and Todd Pletcher's Zulu has won both his starts this winter. The past two years, Pletcher has unveiled previously unraced colts, who developed into Florida Derby winners. Another challenger, Awesome Speed, disappointed in his debut but has reeled off three straight wins since.
However, none of these three has raced around two turns. Mohaymen has done it successfully twice.
The field is completed by Fellowship, a late-running third in the Holy Bull, and overmatched Golden Ray. If the latter, a former claimer, upsets this field, it will be the biggest surprise since the day it snowed in Miami.
A victory by Mohaymen could set up a Florida Derby with the potential to make the Kentucky Derby anti-climactic. Nyquist, the undefeated Eclipse Award-winning Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion, also is being pointed for the April 2 race. The lure to bring him from his West Coast base is a $1 million bonus created by Gulfstream and Fasig-Tipton that will go to any horse purchased at the sales company's premier auction at Gulfstream. Nyquist went for $400,000 last March. (Mohaymen was sold at Keeneland.) The bonus on top of the winner's share of the Florida Derby's $1 million purse would make the Gulfstream race more lucrative than any of the Triple Crown events.
The Fountain of Youth is the headliner of eight stakes. Several pack enough star power to merit top-billing in their own right. X Y Jet, a winner of three starts in South Florida this winter by a combined 19 lengths, tops the $100,000 Grade 3 Gulfstream Sprint. X Y Jet is using this race as a prep for the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 26.
Undefeated Cathryn Sophia, who has won her three career starts by almost 35 lengths, faces last-out stakes winners Lewis Bay and R Girls a Charmer as well as two-for-two Dearest in the $200,000 Grade 2 Davona Dale.
Catch a Glimpse, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, returns off a layoff in the $150,000 Grade 2 Herecomesthebride. Waiting to test her are five last-out winners, including Lira, who has won all three of her career starts, as well as the hunch player's special Wedding Dress.
Heart to Heart, who made last month's Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale his third stakes wins in his past four starts, is the one to beat in the $150,000 Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap. Defending champion Long On Value and Divisidero, a two-time stakes winner last year, are among the challengers.
Five-time stakes winner Daring Kathy, undefeated in three starts over Gulfstream's turf course, makes her first start since Saratoga in the $100,000 Sand Springs.
The stakes menu is completed by the $150,000 Grade 3 Palm Beach and the $75,000 ungraded Texas Glitter, a five-furlong dash on grass, which opens the 13-race program at noon.