Vekoma makes 2019 debut in Fountain of Youth

Several noteworthy sophomores will line up in Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. There are 11 three-year-old colts in total that will race the 1 1/16th-miles on the main oval. Also on the line are 85 Kentucky Derby points, with 50 designated to the winner. Post time for the Fountain of Youth, Race 13 of 14 on the day, is estimated for 5:32 p.m. EST.

#5 VEKOMA (7-2) was last seen acing the one-mile Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct back in November. His lone other start was also a win, going six furlongs at Belmont. He beat fellow Fountain of Youth entrant #2 EPIC DREAMER that day. VEKOMA has worked well since his planned vacation, drilling a bullet in his most recent outing. Manny Franco will fly in for the call once more on the George Weaver trainee. Expect VEKOMA to be on or close to the lead before fending off the closers in the lane.

#8 GLOBAL CAMPAIGN (10-1) may have the most untapped potential of anyone in the Fountain of Youth field. He was never asked for run by Luis Saez in either of his first two starts, both of which were open-length victories at Gulfstream. Despite not reaching maximum effort, GLOBAL CAMPAIGN has run competitive speed figures. He offers good value at 10-1 with Saez staying in the irons.

#6 SIGNALMAN (9-2) had a productive two-year-old season, picking up shares in the Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile before winning the Kentucky Jockey Club last time out. However, it remains to be seen if SIGNALMAN can improve in the speed figure department or if he’s peaked. Also, horses with his late-running style typically struggle at Gulfstream. He’s best used underneath as Brian Hernandez Jr. stays on.

#7 HIDDEN SCROLL (9-5, morning-line favorite) has received plenty of attention after winning his debut by 14 lengths over this course. If he runs back to that speed figure, he should win. However, it was earned in the slop. He may get bet down a bit too much, but HIDDEN SCROLL is a legitimate contender. Joel Rosario will fly in from California for the assignment.

The play: $5 exacta 5/6,7,8, $3 win 8, $2 exacta 7/5 ($20)