by Dustin Fabian
March 1, 2018
At Xpressbet, we’re ‘all in’ on the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth. Heck, you even see our name in the race title! That’s how much we’re looking forward to Saturday.
And to show you how excited we are, we’ve got three big promotions you can’t help but check out:
Plus, our friends at XBTV have been on-site at Gulfstream Park for weeks, watching the works and interviewing the key players like Chad Brown, Mark Hennig and Dale Romans. Plus, join XBTV Saturday for their LIVE Show, starting at 11:00AM ET.
But enough about us – here’s a look at the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth contenders:
1. He Takes Charge (20/1) – A number of handicappers picked him for 3rd or 4th in our Wager Guide, and I can see why. He’s a son of Tapit, out of the dam, Elarose, who is a half-sister to Will Take Charge and Take Charge Indy. He needed five tries to break his maiden, but he got the job done in his two-turn dirt race on a fast track. He should get similar conditions on Saturday and could outrun his monstrous 20/1 morning line odds.
2. Free Drop Billy (9/2) – According to our handicappers, if Good Magic loses the Fountain of Youth, it’ll most likely be at the hands (or hooves) of Free Drop Billy. He danced plenty of dances last year, including the G1 Breeders’ Futurity (1st), G1 Hopeful (2nd) and G3 Sanford (2nd) and started his 2018 campaign with a runner-up performance behind Audible in the G2 Holy Bull. He was taken out of his element to chase an uncontested pace that day and even though he was beaten 5 ½-lengths, he was 7 ¾-lengths clear of third. He’s a serious racehorse and I think he’s sitting on a big performance.
3. Peppered (30/1) – He’d be nothing short of a shock. In his first try on dirt, he was 12th, beaten 15 ¾-lengths, in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at odds of 46/1. He hasn’t raced since November and it’s tough to see him factoring in the results.
4. Strike Power (4/1) – The ML second choice is a speedy son of Speightstown, which may scare some people off betting him in his two-turn debut. You have to like that Luis Saez opted to ride him over Free Drop Billy and Storm Runner. The 102 Beyer he earned in his debut was the best in this field, but can he withstand outside pressure from Machismo and Promises Fulfilled and then have enough in the tank to outkick Good Magic and Free Drop Billy?
5. Storm Runner (15/1) – He gained notoriety knocking off the highly regarded Mississippi on Super Bowl Sunday, but he Beyered low that day (83) and he was crying for the wire at the end, despite opening a 3-length lead at the top of the lane. He loses his rider (Saez) to Strike Power and while there isn’t anything bad to say about him, it’s hard to come up with plenty of reasons he can win, either.
6. Good Magic (7/5) – He jumped up in a big way to win the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at odds of 11/1 last November, which was enough for him to earn Champion Two-Year-Old Male honors despite being winless in his other two races. I thought he ran great in the G1 Champagne, beaten just ½-length by Firenze Fire, despite a hot pace and he should sit a perfect trip in the Fountain of Youth, just behind the speed horses. With a pair of fellow Champions in his corner (Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz) it’s clear why this horse was backed by the majority of handicappers in our free Wager Guide.
7. Gotta Go (10/1) – Deep-closer ran on nicely to finish 2nd behind Strike Power in the G3 Swale, beaten 2 ¾-lengths. I thought he ran a decent race that day, but he still needs to show he can handle two-turn racing. His only try at this was a disaster – he had a horrendous trip in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club – and this will go a long way to show his ‘true’ colors. Is he a late-running sprinter? Can he go two-turns? We’ll find out Saturday.
8. Marconi (8/1) – Todd Pletcher is as savvy as it gets, and there’s a reason this horse shipped from New York to Florida. His Aqueduct races were fine – nothing special – but he shows up here and he’s 8/1 on the ML in a G2 against Good Magic, Strike Power and Free Drop Billy? Feels a little light. I like his running style for this race, but this is a horse that was third, beaten 2 ½-lengths in the G3 Withers. Pletcher is the only trainer in the race with a prior win in this race, but it’ll take quite the training job for Marconi to get the job done.
9. Machismo (15/1) – Visually, his maiden-breaking score at Gulfstream was one of the best races we’ve seen all meet. He stalked the early pace from an outside draw and extended his lead at will for jockey, Albin Jimenez, en route to an effortless 11 ½-length score. The Beyer he earned that day (84) felt a little light, but I’m most concerned about his draw in relation to Strike Power. It won’t be easy to battle him through fast fractions and have something left in the tank.
10. Promises Fulfilled (20/1) – You have to love Irad Ortiz riding a 20/1 shot, but it’s hard to want this horse on your tickets. He’s fast enough to make the lead, in theory at least, but can he do it while starting outside of Machismo and Strike Power? Probably not. And if he doesn’t make the lead, what happens to him? Can he rate? He never has before. He ran decently in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club when 3rd, beaten 2 ½-lengths by Enticed and Tiz Mischief. But neither of those did anything in their three-year-old debuts in the G2 Holy Bull, so it’s hard to expect more out of Promises Fulfilled.