Juvenile champ Good Magic returns in Fountain of Youth

Kentucky Derby points are on the line in Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Fifty of those points go to the winner of this 1 1/16th-mile heat, down to five points to fourth place. A field of 10 three-year-olds will line up at approximately 6:09 p.m. EST for Gulfstream’s 14th and final race. Don’t forget to play FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game this weekend!

#6 GOOD MAGIC (7-5, morning-line favorite) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when last seen, securing a somewhat controversial Eclipse Award for top two-year-old male. He was a maiden prior to that victory and had the benefit of multiple graded stakes winner and race favorite Bolt d’Oro being carried wide on both turns. That being said, GOOD MAGIC put forth a tremendous effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and could be hard to beat in the Fountain of Youth if he replicates that in his first start in four months. Chad Brown has this one working sharply and he’ll maintain Jose Ortiz. Look for GOOD MAGIC to pounce from a stalking position at the top of the stretch.

#4 STRIKE POWER (4-1) is a worthy adversary for GOOD MAGIC and will be the tepid top selection. He dominated a group of maiden sprinters in his December debut, beating a next-out winner by eight lengths, before taking the Grade III Swale Stakes over this course last month. STRIKE POWER stretches out 3/16ths but that would seem to be in his range based on pedigree. We’ll see if Luis Saez can harness some of STRIKE POWER’s speed and keep him from burning out too soon.

#2 FREE DROP BILLY (9-2) was a distant second in last month’s Holy Bull Stakes behind Audible and loses Saez. However, that effort was arguably the best of his career and it’s possible he could improve as he continues maturing. The 2017 Breeders’ Futurity winner will once again be piloted by Robby Albarado.

#3 PEPPERED (30-1) is a longshot worth considering in the deep exotics. Draw a line through his one dirt try, the Kentucky Jockey Club, as he drew poorly, fell back, and had to steer clear of a horse that lost its rider. PEPPERED may have bounced when he ran second in the Grey Stakes two-back off an impressive maiden score. His works for this are strong, so it’s possible he’ll improve on dirt and hit the board at big odds. Nik Juarez rides.

The play: $4 exacta box 4/6, $1 trifecta 4,6/2,3,4,6/2,3,4,6 ($20)

DFJ analysis: Jose Ortiz has several strong stakes mounts at Gulfstream this Saturday. Daring Duchess (8-5) gets his day started in the Grade III The Very One. Ortiz follows that up with 3-5 favorite Celestine in the Sand Springs. Thewayiam (2-1, Herecomesthebride), Fly So High (Even, Davona Dale), Highland Sky (3-1, Canadian Turf), Eight Town (4-1, Gulfstream Park Sprint), and Oscar Nominated (5-1, Mac Diarmida) comprise a long list of stakes contenders for Ortiz before he gets a leg up on favored GOOD MAGIC in the Fountain of Youth.

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