Dornoch Wires A Scratched-Down Fountain Of Youth Field

Dornoch | Ryan Thompson

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When entries were taken Feb. 24, the $400,000 GII Coolmore Fountain of Youth S. looked a tantalizing race in prospect, given the presence of 'TDN Rising Star' Locked (Gun Runner)–the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity hero and GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile third–and the resurgent GII Remsen S. winner Dornoch (Good Magic), not to mention a pair of clearly talented and unexposed rivals in the form of big-figure maiden winner Speak Easy (Constitution) and Victory Avenue (Arrogate), a close second that afternoon.

By mid-morning Saturday, Locked and Victory Avenue had been scratched, and Speak Easy–at the time around 6-5 second favorite–got loose behind the gate and was also withdrawn prior to the start. When the dust had settled, Dornoch was the 1-5 mortal against just four apparently overmatched rivals to pick up the 50 Kentucky Derby points on offer to the winner, and the full-brother to 2023 GI Kentucky Derby winner Mage duly obliged, albeit in workmanlike fashion.

Drawn the rail, Le Dom Bro (Mucho Macho Man), beaten 30-plus lengths in the Remsen and runner-up to Frankie's Empire (Classic Empire) in the Feb. 3 Swale S., was hard sent for the lead, but Luis Saez was equally positive aboard Dornoch, who made the front after a furlong and a half and set very manageable fractions of :24.39 and :48.14 while galloping along in the two path down the back.

Dornoch was fairly conservatively ridden into the turn, and that allowed Le Dom Bro to hold his spot at the rail, right underneath the front-runner, though Dornoch still looked to have something up his sleeve. Le Dom Bro refused to lie down inside and Dornoch didn't do himself any favors by hanging on his incorrect lead for much of the run home, but he was always doing enough to secure his second consecutive win at the graded level.

“We didn't want to be on the lead but when [Speak Easy] scratched, he gets out there and he kind of plays around,” said winning trainer Danny Gargan, who trains for a partnership that includes former MLB star Jayson Werth and Randy Hill's R A Hill Stable, among others. “You can see him with his ears kind of goofing off. I told [jockey] Luis [Saez], 'Just go ahead and go.' We had no choice. We really wanted to stalk today, it just didn't work out that way. He won fine enough. Surely it won't be his fastest race. We didn't expect to win today. It just kind of played out that way. I don't think he ran very hard. He was just kind of playing around out there.”

Gargan said that either the GI Curlin Florida Derby or the GI Toyota Blue Grass could be the next stop for Dornoch.

A debut second sprinting through the Saratoga slop last July 29, Dornoch was runner-up as the favorite in the one-mile Sapling S. at Monmouth Aug. 26 before graduating impressively by 6 1/2 lengths at Keeneland seven weeks later. The 17-10 favorite in the Remsen contested over a rain-affected strip, Dornoch maintained a narrow lead throughout, but looked destined for a runner-up effort when 'TDN Rising Star' Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) raced past at the eighth pole. But Dornoch fought back while racing hard against a golden rail and got his nose down first.

Pedigree Notes:

Donegal Racing paid $90,000 for Puca at the 2013 Keeneland September sale, and they knew a little bit about the family, as the syndicate campaigned her half-brother Finnegans Wake (Powerscourt {GB}), who was third to Hansen (Tapit) in the 2012 GIII Gotham S., but was runner-up in that year's GI Secretariat S. and would go on to become a Grade I winner on the turf. Puca would finish second in the 2015 GII Gazelle S. and became a stakes winner in late 2017 before changing hands for $275,000 at that year's Keeneland November sale.

Among the first mares bred to Gun Runner, Puca returned to KEENOV and fetched $475,000 from Robert Clay's Grandview Equine in the fall of 2018. The resulting foal was a $70,000 buyback at Keeneland September in 2020, but the filly Gunning has punched well above her weight, with a pair of stakes-placings and earnings approaching $280,000, not to mention not the considerable pedigree updates that have since occurred.

A $235,000 KEESEP yearling turned $290,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile, Mage was fourth in last year's Fountain of Youth off his maiden win and runner-up in the GI Florida Derby before being draped with the blanket of roses at Churchill. Also runner-up in the GI Haskell S., Mage now holds court at Airdrie Stud.

The current 2-year-old out of Puca, a colt by McKinzie, was hammered down to Mayberry Farm for $1.2 million at Keeneland September last fall, and a few months later, John Stewart acquired the mare privately carrying a full-sibling to Mage and Dornoch for $2.9 million at Keeneland November. As disclosed in the Resolute Farm mating plans feature, Puca is slated to visit Into Mischief this season.

Stewart's recent Fasig-Tipton February Digital sales-topper Pounce (Lookin At Lucky) won Saturday's GIII Herecomesthebride S. at Gulfstream.

 

Saturday, Gulfstream Park
COOLMORE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH S.-GII, $400,000, Gulfstream, 3-2, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:43.64, ft.
1–DORNOCH, 123, c, 3, by Good Magic
           1st Dam: Puca (SW & GSP, $299,406), by Big Brown
           2nd Dam: Boat's Ghost, by Silver Ghost
           3rd Dam: Rocktheboat, by Summer Squall
($325,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-West Paces Racing LLC, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, LLC, Two Eight Racing, LLC and Pine Racing Stables; B-Grandview Equine (KY); T-Danny Gargan; J-Luis Saez. $248,000. Lifetime Record: 5-3-2-0, $505,400. *Full to Mage, GISW, $2,507,450; 1/2 to Gunning (Gun Runner), MSP, $278,835. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Le Dom Bro, 119, c, 3, Mucho Macho Man–Valiant Emilia (Per), by Pegasus Wind. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($20,000 Ylg '22 OBSWIN). O-Vicente Stella Stables LLC; B-Teneri Farms Inc (KY); T-Eniel Cordero. $80,000.
3–Frankie's Empire, 121, c, 3, Classic Empire–Donna D, by Dixie Union. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($20,000 2yo '23 OBSAPR). O-Frank DeLuca; B-Ralph Kinder & Erv Woolsey (KY); T-Michael Yates. $40,000.
Margins: 1 3/4, NK, 5 3/4. Odds: 0.20, 27.10, 5.60.
Also Ran: Real Macho, Dancing Groom. Scratched: Locked, Merit, Speak Easy, Victory Avenue.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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