Locked, Dornoch Clash In Fountain of Youth

'TDN Rising Star' Locked returns in the Fountain of Youth | Sarah Andrew

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Between them, Irad and Jose Ortiz have accounted for four of the last six runnings of the GII Coolmore Fountain of Youth S., the third of three preps on the road to the championship meeting's main event, the GI Curlin Florida Derby four weeks down the road. The brothers will have every chance to extend that dominance as they partner with two of the top fancies in Saturday's $400,000 contest, offering the winner 50 points and a virtual guaranteed berth in the field for the GI Kentucky Derby.

Jose Ortiz reunites with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm's 'TDN Rising Star' Locked (Gun Runner), who makes his first trip to the races since running on nicely to round out the trifecta behind stablemate and fellow 'Rising Star' Fierceness (City of Light) in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile nearly four months ago. In hindsight, his 2-year-old form looks pretty strong. A closing third to future SW & GSP Just Steel (Justify) at debut odds of 12-1 at Saratoga in August, the $425,000 Keeneland September grad thrashed GII Remsen S. third and this year's Jerome S. hero Drum Roll Please (Hard Spun) going the mile at the Spa the following month. The chestnut overcame a torrid trip to validate 3-4 favoritism in Keeneland's GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity in October and just failed to catch 'Rising Star' Muth (Good Magic) for second in the Juvenile, while 6 3/4 lengths behind Fierceness. Connections will be hoping for a strong pace in a race that is anything but a must-win.

Irad Ortiz will get a leg up on Speak Easy (Constitution), who earned a field-best 100 Beyer when besting the reopposing Victory Avenue (Arrogate) in a seven-furlong maiden Jan. 27. Speak Easy opts out of a two-turn Friday allowance for this and it will almost certainly be pedal to the metal from gate one the 9-2 chance. In light of the Speak Easy decision, Merit (Mastery) was to be re-routed for the aforementioned softer Friday allowance.

While the Mage connections are represented by Victory Avenue, the Kentucky Derby winner's full-brother will look to pick up where he left off in 2023. Dornoch (Good Magic) was placed in the Sapling S. as a maiden and looked very stylish in winning a two-turn test at Keeneland by open lengths Oct. 14. Favored in the Remsen, he looked a sure loser when 'Rising Star' Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) surged by in the final furlong, but somehow managed to claw his way back to score. The latter has since endorsed the form in the GII Risen Star S.

'Rising Star' Deterministic Returns in Gotham

It has been over 200 days since 'TDN Rising Star' Deterministic (Liam's Map) overcame a tricky trip to graduate in his only racetrack appearance to date and the $625,000 KEESEP yearling makes his sophomore debut in Saturday's GIII Gotham S., a race that lacks an obvious standout.

The priciest of his sire's 58 yearlings to sell in 2022, the dark bay missed the kick, looked uncomfortable in the opening stages, was wide and bumped with favored Eliminate (Curlin) in upper stretch and still managed to win.

“We're excited to see him run again,” said trainer Christophe Clement. “I wish I could have run in an allowance race in Florida or New York, but we could not find that race and the Gotham is really the only choice. But, I do like the horse very much.”

'TDN Rising Star' Deterministic | Sarah Andrew

Like Deterministic, Just a Touch (Justify) is only once-raced and also made the most of his debut over a sloppy six furlongs at the Fair Grounds Jan. 27. Away fairly, the bay set a tracking trip and finished full of run as the 1-2 mortal. Florent Geroux makes the trip up from the Big Easy to call the shots aboard the May foal, who has gate 10 to overcome.

“He's very athletic,” trainer Brad Cox said of Just a Touch. “He's a good-sized colt and done everything right in the mornings and he showed up first time out. It's going to be a big ask shipping him up there, but I like the idea of stretching him out to the one-turn mile. I'm hopeful he can handle that and we'll see how it goes.”

The Cox barn is also represented by Bergen (Liam's Map), yet another debut winner last October at Keeneland who toyed with four rivals to scoop a muddy renewal of the Jimmy Winkfield S. Jan. 27.

The form of the local GIII Withers S. is on display in the form of El Grande O (Take Charge Indy), who finished a nose behind Parx shipper Uncle Heavy (Social Inclusion) and 2 1/2 lengths clear of favored Lightline (City of Light).

Nysos Towers Over San Felipe Fivesome

'TDN Rising Star' Nysos (Nyquist) won't be traveling across the country for this year's Derby, but the Baoma Corp. colorbearer should be winning for the fourth time in as many trips to the races in Sunday's postponed GII San Felipe S.

The $550,000 OBS April breezer has won his three races by a combined 26 3/4 lengths and was up in trip for the one-mile GIII Robert B. Lewis S. Feb. 3, but handled it like a consummate pro, shooting clear in the lane to post a 7 1/2-length victory over Wine Me Up (Vino Rosso), who had three-parts of a length on Scatify (Justify) in third.

Mc Vay (Constitution), a distant fourth in the Lewis, tries again, and the Imagination (Into Mischief) is the third of the Bob Baffert trainees and is trying stakes company for the first time.

Sophomore Fillies In A Supporting Role at GP

While the 3-year-old boys continue on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in the Fountain of Youth, their female counterparts take their next step toward the first Friday in May in Saturday's GII Davona Dale S. at Gulfstream.

The one-mile test marks the seasonal debut of George Krikorian's Eclipse-winning 2-year-old filly Just F Y I (Justify), who was last seen proving a neck best as a 7-1 gamble in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies out at Santa Anita. She was running her record to three-from-three on that occasion, having won narrowly on Saratoga sprint debut Aug. 26 ahead of a more dominating victory in the GI Frizette S. at a rainswept Aqueduct Oct. 7. Junior Alvarado, fresh off the richest payday of his career in Saudi Arabia last weekend, has the return call.

The queen of the hill, at least for the time being, Just F Y I will have to content with a race-fit 'TDN Rising Star' Leslie's Rose (Into Mischief) in the comebacker. An eased-down 9 1/4-length winner of her 6 1/2-furlong bow at the Big A Nov. 19, the $1.15-million Keeneland September grad outslugged Gun Song (Gun Runner) to take a seven-furlong first-level allowance by a length Jan. 11 and the latter flattered the form with a 5 3/4-length tally going this track's one-turn mile Feb. 9.

“We thought she'd run well the first time because we had high hopes for her, but that even exceeded our expectations,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I liked the way she came out of that, I liked the way she handed herself stepping up into her next race and she's continued to train very professionally.”

Into Champagne (Into Mischief) is perfect in two starts, including a 1 1/4-length success in the Glitter Woman S. run over a sloppy strip Jan. 7.

One race prior, 3-year-old turf fillies get their chance in the GIII Herecomesthebride S. Cheyenne Stable's Ozara (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) will try to take her local record to three-for-three, with previous scores in the Dec. 9 Wait A While S. and a last-out defeat of Life's an Audible (Audible) in the Jan. 6 Ginger Brew S.

Big 'Cap A World Cup Trial For Newgrange?

Newgrange (Violence) is the 5-2 favorite on the morning line for Sunday's GI Santa Anita H., with potentially bigger fish to fry in four weeks' time. A four-time winner since being acquired for $325,000 as the Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age Sale in the summer of 2022, the 5-year-old is in peak form entering the Big 'Cap, including a 2 1/4-length defeat of Mixto (Good Magic) in the GII San Antonio S. on opening day of the meet Dec. 26 before successfully defending his title in the GII San Pasqual S. Jan. 27. Connections reportedly elected to stay home for the San Pasqual over the GI Pegasus World Cup with the goal of minimizing travel with a trip to the G1 Dubai World Cup being mulled over.

Godolphin's unexposed Highland Falls (Curlin) makes the trip out for Brad Cox, with Florent Geroux named. The chestnut son of GI Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Round Pond (Awesome Again) earned a 98 Beyer for a two-length Churchill allowance victory Nov. 17 and exits a 3/4-length tally in a second-level Fair Ground allowance Jan. 13.

Newgate (Into Mischief) went missing off a neck tally in the 2023 GIII Robert B. Lewis S. and has run well in his two starts since–a second to next-out GIII Palos Verdes S. winner Big City Lights (Mr. Big) in allowance company Jan. 6 before splitting Newgrange and Mixto last time.

Phil D'Amato also saddles the likely favorite in the GI Frank E. Kilroe Mile S., Easter (Fr) (Lonhro {Aus}), who looks for four straight. A half-length winner of the 2023 Lure S. when under the care of Graham Motion, the 6-year-old beat Hong Kong Harry (Ire) (Es Que Love {Ire}) on the square in the GII Seabiscuit H. at Del Mar and added a 1 1/4-length defeat of subsequent GIII San Marcos S. hero Missed the Cut (Quality Road) in the GII San Gabriel S.

Du Jour (Temple City) is capable at this level on his very best. The unluckiest sort of loser in the 2023 Kilroe, he was impressive in taking out the GII Del Mar Mile Sept. 2 and though he was only 10th in the GI Breeders' Cup Mile, he was beaten just 3 1/2 lengths.

Goliad (War Front) exits an audacious pillar-to-post victory beneath Kazushi Kimura in the GIII Thunder Road S. over this course and distance Feb. 3 and tries Grade I company for the first time at age seven.

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