BY GULSTREAM PARK
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL— The 7-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) at Gulfstream Park is Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte, last year’s Eclipse Award 2-year-old juvenile champion, trained by Todd Pletcher.
Fellow trainer Chad Brown has no problem with that.
“Right now, Forte is clearly the leader of the division,” Brown said. “I have been very impressed with that horse.”
Brown hopes that come early Saturday evening, he is even more impressed with his Fountain of Youth entrant, Rodeo Creek Racing LLC’s Blazing Sevens, who, like Forte, is making his 3-year-old seasonal debut.
To be ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario, Blazing Sevens is the 7-2 second choice on the morning-line in the field of 10 in the mile-and-a-sixteenth race. He will start from post six in the field of 10.
Blazing Sevens and Forte are not strangers. The pair met twice last year with Forte winning both races. Forte won the Sept. 5 Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga with Blazing Sevens finishing a distant third, and the two hooked up again in the Nov. 4 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) at Keeneland on Nov. 4.
Forte won that one with Blazing Sevens five-and-a-quarter lengths back in fourth. A less than clean start in the Juvenile didn’t cost Blazing Sevens, according to Brown, but it certainly didn’t help.
“He had a good trip,” Brown said. “He was following Forte and on the final turn, Forte just got away from him, powered through the stretch and won very convincingly. I am not sure if our horse did not care for the Keeneland surface. I didn’t feel he ran his best race and I don’t think he had any excuse as to why. I know he is better than that. At a minimum, he should have been closer at the finish.”
After the Juvenile, Brown gave Blazing Sevens time away from the races before bringing him back to the work tab. Since Jan 21, he has had six works at the Payson Park Training Center.
“The horse is doing fine,” Brown said. “I am pleasantly surprised how well he has done over the winter. He is a horse I have always thought a lot of.”
A lot of that sentiment has to do with Blazing Sevens’ sire, Good Magic, who Brown trained in 2017-18. Good Magic finished second behind Triple Crown winner Justify in the 2018 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) and was a gutsy fourth behind him in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Good Magic was third in the 2018 Fountain of Youth (G2).
“He looks totally different than him. He is a much bigger horse at this stage,” Brown said in comparing the two horses. “He is not as agile as Good Magic was, but he has a lot of strength and a lot of natural endurance. He is a hard horse to make tired. I think more distance will be his friend as the season goes on.”
Besides his maiden victory last year, Blazing Sevens took the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 1. That was the first Grade 1 winner for Good Magic.
“It is very rewarding to have [Good Magic’s] first Grade 1 winner and to have such a good horse by him in his first crop,” Brown said. “I see [Blazing Sevens] coming into his 3-year-old season the right way.”Continued from COVERChad Brown/COGLIANESE PHOTOBuy / Breed / Race / Sell Florida-breds!