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Dornoch Scores Against Depleted Fountain of Youth Field

Speak Easy, Locked, and Victory Avenue were scratched.

Dornoch wins the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park

Dornoch wins the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park

Coglianese Photos

Remsen Stakes (G2) winner Dornoch took full advantage of several key scratches and showed his class in a five-horse field to win the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park March 2.

Dornoch, a bay son of Good Magic  and bred by Grandview Equine, earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (G1) as he opened his 3-year-old season with a win and extended his personal win streak to three races. Owned by West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing, and Pine Racing Stables, the full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage  now has 60 qualifying points, which should be plenty to make the field.

Moments before the race, the field lost a major contender when WinStar Farm and Siena Farm's Speak Easy, a son of Constitution  trained by Todd Pletcher who rolled to a clear victory in his career debut in a maiden special weight Jan. 27 at Gulfstream, was scratched after getting loose during the post parade. Speak Easy hit the rail and suffered lacerations, according to the track veterinarian.

That late change followed earlier exits announced several hours before the race. Last year's Breeders' Futurity (G1) winner Locked and Victory Avenue, who ran a close second to Speak Easy in the aforementioned maiden race, also were scratched.

MCCARTHY: Locked, Victory Avenue Scratch From Fountain of Youth

The changes left Dornoch, the 1-5 favorite, to compete against four other 3-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile race. He broke well under Luis Saez and immediately went to the front, where he set fractions of :24.39, :48.14, 1:11.43, and 1:36.95.

"We didn't want to be on the lead, but when the 1 horse (Speak Easy) scratched, I went down, I told Luis 'Just go now,'" trainer Danny Gargan said. "We had no choice. We really wanted to stalk today but it didn't work out that way."

Vicente Stella Stables' Le Dom Bro, 27-1 under Edwin Gonzalez, was second the entire way. The bay son of Mucho Macho Man  nearly drew even with the leader near the three-eighths pole on the inside. However, he was no match for the eventual winner.

Dornoch reached the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front and with a winning time of 1:43.64 on a fast track. He paid $2.40, $2.10, and $2.10.

"I felt like I was on a monster the whole way," Saez said. "Dornoch is a pretty fast horse. He can run anywhere. The other horse (Speak Easy) was the speed and we were thinking to follow him. But when he got scratched, we just let Dornoch run. He did it pretty easy."

Dornoch improved to 3-2-0 in five starts with his third straight win, which includes the Remsen at Aqueduct Racetrack Dec. 2. It may prove a fortuitous way to ease into the season while also landing a grade 2 stakes, $248,000 in earnings, and enough Derby qualifying points to provide his connections options.

"I don't think he ran very hard," Gargan said of his colt's effort in the Fountain of Youth. "He was just kind of playing around out there."

Dornoch wins the 2024 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Dornoch heads to the winner's circle after the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park

Le Dom Bro earned 25 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby and paid $7.40 and $3.40. Frank DeLuca's Frankie's Empire and rider Miguel Vasquez finished a neck back in third to earn 15 points and pay $2.60.

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Rohan Crichton, Daniel Walters, and Dennis Smith's Real Macho, with rider Tyler Gaffalione, finished fourth and earned 10 Kentucky Derby points. Alexandres' Dancing Groom, with jockey Javier Castellano, was fifth and earned five points.

Gargan didn't say when Dornoch would run next but did mention the Florida Derby (G1) and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) as possibilities.

"We're lucky enough now, we can pick our spot," Gargan said. "We have 60 points, and that usually gets you in. So now we're on cruise control and figure out where we go next."

Oracle Bloodstock purchased Dornoch for $325,000 at the 2022 Keeneland September yearling sale, where he was consigned by Runnymede Farm.

Dornoch is the second graded stakes winner for Good Magic this season and both runners are 3-year-old males as Muth won the San Vicente Stakes (G2) in January at Santa Anita Park. Good Magic stands for $125,000 at Hill 'n' Dale Farms in Paris, Ky.

Bred in Kentucky by Grandview Equine, Dornoch is out of the stakes-winning Big Brown  mare Puca, who besides producing Mage, from three starters also has produced the winning, stakes-placed Gun Runner  filly Gunning.

Video: Coolmore Fountain of Youth S. (G2)