Fountain of Youth Stakes 2012 Preview: Pletcher vs. Union Rags

The South Florida sophomores take a serious step on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 at Gulfstream Park in Sunday’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes and Union Rags makes his much anticipated seasonal debut.

Union Rags

Union Rags is back in action at the Gulf on Sunday - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#7 Union Rags was the most accomplished juvenile in the land despite missing the G1 BC Juvenile by a head. He won a pair of graded events in 2011 including a powerful win over Alpha in the G1 Champagne at Belmont Park in October. The talented son of Dixie Union should have caught Hansen under the Twin Spires but he failed to keep a straight course in the stretch. He is in great shape on the Derby graded earnings list and does not have to win this prep for the Florida Derby.

#2 Algorithms (8-5) tries to keep his perfect record intact for Todd Pletcher. This is an important race for him, not from a graded earnings standpoint, but he must prove that he can excel around two turns. He sat perfect outside tactical trips in both local wins against Gotham hopefuls Consortium and Hansen. Early-pressing types from inner posts dominate local 8.5 furlong events and the undefeated son of Bernardini should not have any excuses.

#5 Discreet Dancer (3-1) easily captured both local sprint starts and gets a class/distance test today. He spiked a temperature and missed a planned work on Feb 6 but drilled smartly at Palm Meadows on Feb 13 and Feb 20. He figures to set sail for the lead and will probably offer more value than Algorithms and Union Rags.

#3 Fort Loudon (20-1) lands an advantageous inner post and has enough positional speed to work out a forwardly placed journey at square odds. The Calder specialist got a spin over the local main in needed Holy Bull effort in the slop and can go better today.

#4 Casual Trick (6-1) looked great in his Churchill sprint maiden win last November and began his 3-year-old campaign with a fine 2nd in the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan 1. He threw in a clunker against El Padrino last time but may not have cared for the wet footing. His last was too bad to believe and the well bred Zito runner could rebound in a big way.

#1 Neck ‘N Neck (15-1) dons the hood and lands the cozy rail. He played bridesmaid to Discreet Dancer here Jan 7 and exits a slow renewal of the G3 Sam Davis.

#6 News Pending (20-1) is slowly improving for Dale Romans. He showed a nice late kick in a late turf route Feb 5 and might be better on that footing.

#8 Csaba (20-1) won twice in the Calder slop last year and is probably doing a rain dance. He does not have the numbers to compete here.

Here is HorseRacingNation.com handicapper Mike Shutty’s video analysis of the Fountain of Youth Stakes. My FOY wagering strategies can be found at the bottom of this post.

Jarrod Horak’s Fountain of Youth Plays:

$8 to win #3

.50 cent Trifecta 3-4/2-3-4/1-2-3-4-5-7 ($8)

.50 cent Trifecta 2-4-5-7/3/ALL ($12)

.50 cent Trifecta 2-4-5-7/ALL/3 ($12)

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