Irish War Cry Faces Stiff Test in Fountain of Youth
By Jordan Sigmon
Irish War Cry has already taken down a reigning champion with ease. Now he must prove it was no fluke when he faces a talented field in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream Park. Among his key opponents will be the multiple grade 1 winner Practical Joke and Made You Look, who will be trying the dirt for the first time.
Owned by Isabelle de Tomaso and trained by Graham Motion, Irish War Cry comes into the Fountain of Youth with a perfect three-for-three record that includes a win in the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII) over Classic Empire last out. A son of Curlin, he has shown ability to win both from off the pace and in gate-to-wire fashion, a trait that could prove handy in this race. He has only had one work since the Holy Bull, a five-furlong drill in 1:01.65 this past Saturday. Rating about five-lengths off of his workmate through the early parts of the work, Irish War Cry responded with quick acceleration when asked by his rider and finished up several lengths clear of his workmate. Graham Motion seems to have the colt in tip-top shape for what could be his biggest test to date.
Practical Joke was very well regarded as a 2-year-old for owners Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence and trainer Chad Brown, and will be making his first start since a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI). Before that race the son of Into Mischief won the Champagne Stakes (GI) and Hopeful Stakes (GI). He has been holding his own in the mornings with older stablemate Shagaf, who won the Gotham Stakes (GIII) last year and was well-regarded himself going into the Kentucky Derby (GI). His come-from-behind running style could serve him well in the event of a meltdown on the front end.
The two unknowns of the main contenders are Made You Look, who has never run on dirt, and Huracan Americo, who will be making his North American debut. Owned in partnership by Three Chimneys Farm and Let’s Go Stables, the Todd Pletcher-trained Made You Look is a two-time graded stakes winner on the turf. Pletcher is pleased with how the colt has been working over the dirt at Palm Beach Downs and believes his pedigree (More Than Ready – Night and Day by Unbridled’s Song) should be suitable for the surface.
Huracan Americo has run only twice, finishing fourth in his debut before breaking his maiden in the Derby Nacional (GI) going 1 ½ miles in Peru. Owned by Dona Licha Stables LLC and trained by Dante Zanelli Jr., the Florida-bred son of Drosselmeyer has logged three workouts at Gulfstream since arriving in the U.S.
The Florida-based pair of Gunnevera and Three Rules could prove valid contenders if they bring their A-race. Peacock Racing Stables LLC’s Gunnevera won the Saratoga Special Stakes (GII) and Delta Downs Jackpot (GIII) at two and was most recently second to Irish War Cry in the Holy Bull; he is trained by Antonio Sano. Three Rules went undefeated in his first five starts with a combined winning margin of 31 lengths. He has since placed sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and second in the Swale Stakes (GII) for owners ShadeTree Thoroughbreds Inc, Tom Fitzgerald, and Geoff Roy and trainer Jose Pinchin.
Well-regarded maiden winners Takaful, Lookin for Eight (who was recently purchased privately by Gary Barber and sent to trainer Mark Casse) and Beasley round out the field along with Talk Logistics and Quinientos.
The Fountain of Youth is carded as the last of 13 races on the Saturday card with an approximate post time of 6:05 pm ET.
What do you think of trainer Graham Motion’s chances to capture another Kentucky Derby? Find out his Future Book odds, and the odds of all your favorite Derby-bound trainers here: