Union Rags was the Kentucky Derby 2012 favorite going into the Fountain of Youth Stakes and proved his mettle with a facile score at Gulfstream Park under Julien Leparoux on Sunday.
G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes (2-26-12): 95 BSF (Union Rags)
Union Rags did not have to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He already had plenty of Derby graded earnings and was using his sophomore debut as a prep for the Florida Derby. It was nice to see a good prospect score despite not being fully cranked. The Michael Matz runner is the solid Derby favorite at this stage but let’s not get carried away with Triple Crown talk. His main rival and morning line favorite Algorithms scratched due to a bone splint injury and there was not much depth to the FOY field. Discreet Dancer was the controlling speed but spiked a fever earlier in the month and figured to have distance limitations.
Union Rags has been my top ranked Derby hopeful since November 2011 and showed plenty of promise at the Gulf on Sunday but there is still a long way to go and we will learn more when he faces better rivals at nine furlongs in the Florida Derby on March 31.
Dale Romans always seems to find a way to have a Triple Crown trail player and News Pending finished a fine 2nd in the FOY. Kent Desormeaux sensed the slow splits and made a smart early move aboard the 27.50-1 longshot. He was not match for Union Rags but ended up a clear second.
Discreet Dancer set the pace and held the show in a disappointing effort as the favorite. He is best around one turn.
Fountain of Youth Grade: B