Can Mohaymen Stay Undefeated in Fountain of Youth?
- Reinier Macatangay
- On February 24, 2016
Can Mohaymen Stay Undefeated in Fountain of Youth?: Unsurprisingly, most handicappers place Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen on top of their Kentucky Derby 142 contender rankings. The Tapit colt holds an undefeated record and goes into the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (GII), scheduled for this Saturday at Gulfstream Park, with the best routing speed figures (using TimeformUS anyway).
Mohaymen’s class will be tested, even with the small field. Maybe he scared the competition away. If this ultra-talented colt trained by Kiaran McLaughlin keeps the streak going, he must defeat the promising Todd Pletcher-trained Zulu. Coincidentally, both men are former protégés of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Not many avid racing fans need a summary of Mohaymen’s record by now, but here is one more rundown.
Mohaymen started his career last September at Belmont Park, where he broke his maiden over a decent field that included King Kranz. The time or speed figure makes no difference. When a horse breaks their maiden at first asking, it is impressive because horses use their career debut as a learning experience.
After Belmont, Mohaymen went to Aqueduct and took home two graded stakes victories before the year ended. The first one came in the Nashua Stakes (GII) over notable names such as Flexibility, Sail Ahoy, River Dell and Magna Light. He earned an impressive (for a 2-year-old colt) 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure.
In Mohaymen’s second graded stakes victory at Aqueduct, he defeated Flexibility again and earned a 116 TimeformUS Speed Figure, the highest number for a 2-year-old horse in 2015. Flexibility ran a game second for a 115, before going on to capture the Jerome (GIII) at Aqueduct in January.
In a head scratcher, Flexibility returned a few weeks later in the Withers (GIII) and finished fourth.
Regardless, Mohaymen kept the momentum going in the Holy Bull Stakes (GII) last month on this racetrack. He won comfortably over Greenpointcrusader, who held the top spot in Steve Haskin’s “Derby Dozen” column. TimeformUS awarded Mohaymen a 112 for the win, which is a fine number for this early in the season.
McLaughlin spoke to Daily Racing Form writer Jay Privman and mentioned one great quality of Mohaymen.
“The nice thing is his mind,” McLaughlin said. “He’s good, quiet. He’s a gentleman at all times.”
From a betting standpoint, it will be difficult to swallow the low price. Even horses perceived as invincible are capable of losing for a number of reasons besides ability. With this idea in mind, other eyes will be on Zulu.
With two wins out of two career starts, it is hard to knock Zulu’s record either. The colt lacks class, but pedigree experts love his breeding and Pletcher horses tend to run exceptionally well at Gulfstream.
Zulu won his maiden race in wire-to-wire fashion last December. Since a horse’s first career start works as a learning experience, forget whatever speed figure was earned.
In his next start, Zulu won somewhat more impressively, coasting home by over seven lengths in a seven-furlong sprint race at Gulfstream. Prospectus, Zulu’s stablemate, finished in the runner-up position.
If one cause for concern exists with Zulu, both of his wins came on wet dirt and sometimes horses cannot duplicate their wet dirt form on a dry track. With Bernardini as his sire, it gives even more reason to think carefully before emptying the bank account. At least, the pedigree indicates distance should not pose a problem.
Awesome Speed and Awesome Banner are the last two horses with a realistic chance. Bettors might confuse the names. While Awesome Speed comes off a win in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes and Awesome Banner won the Hutcheson (GIII) and Swale Stakes (GII), they both come in with class and distance questions respectively.
The winner earns 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (GI) on May 7. Mohaymen rates as the best choice once again to take this Derby prep race. If something strange happens, then Zulu will be around to pick up the pieces, followed by Awesome Banner. Awesome Speed seems more likely to finish underneath than win.
Only a little more than two months until the Derby remains!
Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes 2016 Post Positions & Odds
Race 12 5:30 PM ET
1 Fellowship 20-1 Lezcano/Gold
2 Zulu 3-1 Velazquez/Pletcher
3 Golden Ray 30-1 Vasquez/Rodriguez
4 Awesome Speed 4-1 Ortiz, Jr./Goldberg
5 Awesome Banner 7-2 Caraballo/Gold
6 Mohaymen 6-5 Alvarado/McLaughlin