The 2016 Fountain of Youth Stakes went off as scheduled on Saturday, February 27th and had a result that everyone expected. Mohaymen rode an inside line between his competition and dusted them down the stretch in a dominant performance. The son of Tapit now has 71 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which leads all Triple Crown hopefuls.
Run over a distance of 1 1/16th miles, with a purse of $400,000, the race itself was a thrilling display by Mohaymen, who skillfully stalked Awesome Banner, who led by a length and a half after the first turn. Previously undefeated Zulu took over after the back stretch, surging ahead in to the second turn. Breaking in to the home stretch, Zulu simply couldn’t keep pace with the favourite. Mohaymen won the 2016 Fountain of Youth Stakes by a convincing 2 1/4 lengths.
Mohaymen rewarded his backers with a $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10 payout. Zulu cashed in as a 4/1 outside shot with a $3.20 and $2.60 return. Fellowship, who made a mad dash down the stretch to zip past Awesome Speed, ended up showing in third for $3.40.
The 2016 Fountain of Youth Stakes is the second consecutive win for Mohaymen at Gulfstream Park. He had previously thrashed the field at the Holy Bull Stakes in January. The next test for Kieran McLaughlin’s trainee will be the Florida Derby who is staying on course with his cherished horse. “We’re here and we’re pointing that way, and we’re not altering our plan,” McLaughlin stated confidently after the win.
However, Nyquist is also supposed to be enter the Florida Derby. This could be a serious showdown between the top two horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and it’s a meeting that McLaughlin isn’t exactly keen on. “I’m not really looking forward to facing him. He’s a very talented horse and so are we.” Whether or not one of the derby hopefuls veers of course remains to be seen but both camps have a few weeks to decide what their game plan will be.
Zulu’s second place finish at the 2016 Fountain of Youth Stakes drew praise from trainer Todd Pletcher. “Hopefully it’s something to build on and improve on,” Pletcher remarked. “He gave us the impression he wanted more distance and I think he showed he can handle that. We’re still working on a few things. He got a little excited in the post parade and a little excited in the starting gate.” Zulu will also point towards the Florida Derby, as will third place finisher Fellowship.
The 2016 Fountain of Youth Stakes is already being regarded as one of the most dramatic races of the season so far. A second renewal at the Florida Derby in a month would certainly blow the roof of the grandstands, especially if Nyquist and Mohaymen end up on a collision course.