The Fountain of Youth Stakes has proven to be a useful prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. While it’s scheduled early in the season and never tells us as much as we would like to know, it can help to separate the good from the really good.
HOWEVER, this year’s edition may have left me with more questions than answers. For example…
How good IS Hidden Scroll?
People were very quick to say, “See? Told you so,” when the buzz horse whose only previous start was a romp in maiden company over a wet track. But, let’s truly look at the Bill Mott trainee’s race, shall we?
He led throughout, setting lightning-fast fractions, having never gone 2 turns in his life, began to draw away in the stretch if only for moment, before being passed by Code of Honor, Bourbon War, and–by a nose at the wire–Vekoma to finish a nearby 4th.
So truly, let’s examine why this horse is being tossed away as a “pretender.”
The way I see it, he was the best horse in the race who can only move up from this performance. I would love to see him learn to rate a bit, and I believe he will under Mott’s guidance. He simply needs a bit of seasoning and practice, which he will surely get more of in the coming months.
I like him. I love him. I want some more of him.
Okay, next question…
Did Code of Honor benefit from a good trip?
Sure, he won the Fountain of Youth rather decisively… but, did Code of Honor prevail victorious because he was a superior athlete to the rest of his field? Or because he ran a ground-saving, idyllic trip throughout the race’s duration, all the while benefiting from a grueling pace up front?
I’m going out on a limb to say I believe it was the latter. Sure, he’s talented enough, and I respect him. A win is a win is a win— no one can deny him that.
But, that being said, he has yet to give me any sort of inkling that he’s a champion in the making. I’m not in love with his way of going, nor am I incredibly impressed by his victories up to this point.
I will need to see more from Code of Honor before I will believe that he has the ability to stack up to the likes of Game Winner, Improbable, or my own person fave, War of Will.
Who exactly is Bourbon War?
You don’t know?? Yeah, me neither. But, I want to know a whole lot more about him. I’m the first to say I’m never a huge fan of closers because they tend to be so pace-dependent, but I would be lying if I said he didn’t intrigue me.
Hailing from Bourbon Lane Stables, the son of Tapit certainly has the makings of a true route horse, and while I am not at this point interested in him as a Kentucky Derby winner, I do see some Belmont potential in him (Tapit,duh)… But that’s a topic for a different time.
So as the questions keep piling up, we can only hope that the answers become clear as the road ahead unwinds— and what a lovely road it is.
Can May 4th just get here already?
Photo of Code of Honor winning the 2019 Fountain of Youth Stakes by LizLamont and our friends at Eclipse Sportswire