2023 Fountain of Youth Odds & Davona Dale Stakes Picks

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, the reappearance of last year’s champion juvenile colt Forte, who puts his big reputation on the line in the G2 2023 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on Saturday – a 50pt ‘win-and-in’ for the Kentucky Derby – against G1 winner Blazing Sevens and G3 winners Rocket Can and General Jim. The G2 Davona Dale is an important Kentucky Oaks prep and features the return of Breeders’ Cup runner-up Leave No Trace, who faces stiff opposition led by the unbeaten Red Carpet Ready.

Fountain of Youth Stakes

G2, $400,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 3yo, 5.43pm ET

Here, finally, is the pivotal moment on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, when last year’s champion juvenile colt makes his comeback in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, a race that offers 50 RTKD points to the winner.

The important thing to remember is that two-year-old form is not three-year-old form. Forte (7-5) was brilliant last year, winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland over a mile-sixteenth to go with his earlier victories in the G1 Hopeful at Saratoga and the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, and on pure form there’s nothing in this race that can touch him.

But we have all seen top-class juveniles fail to make the transition from two to three, and there are no guarantees. This is a good race, although not overly strong, and Forte will need to be somewhere near his best to win it. He’s unlikely to be tuned up 100 per cent tight, but if he’s close to that it will be a surprise if he’s beaten.

He meets Blazing Sevens (7-2) for the third time, having beaten that colt into fourth – by five and a quarter lengths – in the BC Juvenile and into third – by 12 lengths – in the Hopeful. That’s a lot of ground to make up, but in between Blazing Sevens waltzed away with the G1 Champagne at Aqueduct on a sloppy track, so there’s plenty of class there. He will need to have improved over the winter to catch Forte, but that’s entirely possible.

Benchmark three-year-old form – although not particularly majestic three-year-old form – comes in the shape of Rocket Can (8-1), who took a big step forward when winning the G3 Holy Bull over course and distance on his first run of the year. He was closer to the pace than his longshot barnmate Shadow Dragon (12-1) and that proved decisive, Rocket Can uncatchable by three-quarters of a length from the rallying, wide-running Shadow Dragon.

Both horses will move forward, and should have nothing to fear from those behind in the Holy Bull – Legacy Isle (20-1), fourth beaten seven and a quarter lengths, Il Miracolo (30-1), a further two and three-quarter lengths away fifth, and warm favourite Cyclone Mischief (12-1), a very disappointing seventh of eight.

Fellow course winner General Jim (6-1) ran well enough when taking a short-field G3 Swale over seven furlongs, the first two pulling well clear of the third. He wore blinkers for the first time there and they obviously helped, he’s bred to relish stretching out and he’s certainly in the mix, but he’ll need to move forward plenty to threaten Forte on that evidence.

Mage (8-1) got it right first time here over seven furlongs, making all and clearing away for an impressive success, but he goes straight in at the deep end now and it’s hard to see him having an impact.

2023 Fountain of Youth Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
General JimLuis Saez+600
Legacy IsleEmisael Jaramillo+2000
Shadow DragonJose L. Ortiz+1200
ForteIrad Ortiz, Jr.+140
Il MiracoloEdgar Perez+3000
Blazing SevensJoel Rosario+350
MageJavier Castellano+800
Rocket CanJunior Alvarado+800
Cyclone MischiefTyler Gaffalione+1200
Dangerous RideMiguel Angel Vasquez

It’s all about FORTE, last year’s champion, who has nothing to fear if ready to rumble after his winter break and is impossible to fault on class and stamina.

KENTUCKY DERBY ODDS

Davona Dale Stakes

G2, $200,000, 1m, 3yo fillies, 4.37pm ET

The fillies’ equivalent, the Davona Dale, also features a leading contender who returns to action after a fine showing at the Breeders’ Cup, and with 50 Road to the Kentucky Oaks points on the line for the winner this is an important prep.

The horse in the spotlight is Leave No Trace (5-1), who concluded a fine juvenile campaign when a longshot runner-up to champion Wonder Wheel in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies over a mile-sixteenth, pressing the pace throughout but unable to cope with the winner’s late surge and beaten three lengths.

That came off the back of victory in the seven-furlong G1 Spinaway at Saratoga – beating Wonder Wheel by a length and a half – and third place in the G1 Frizette over a mile at Aqueduct, when she could never get to grips with the front two. The mile seems a good place for her to start and she sets the standard.

Five of her rivals come on from the G3 Forward Gal here over seven furlongs last month, a race won by the unbeaten Red Carpet Ready (2-1), who sat close to the pace, pounced and surged clear to beat stakes debutante Undervalued Asset (3-1) by two and a quarter lengths, with the one-paced Atomically (8-1) another length back in third. There was then a gap of seven and three-quarter lengths back to the never-nearer Positano Sunset (8-1) in fourth, with longshot Adeliese’s Smile (30-1) last of the nine throughout.

Red Carpet Ready is still something of an unknown quantity given her unbeaten streak, and she should have no problem stretching out to a mile. She and the unexposed, progressive Undervalued Asset pose a considerable threat to Leave No Trace and also have the benefit of race-fitness.

This is the logical progression for Infinite Diamond (10-1), who pressed the pace before driving clear when winning a stakes over course and distance on New Year’s Day, finishing two and a half lengths ahead of third-placed Lynx (12-1), who rallied gamely but could never land a blow. This requires more, naturally, but Infinite Diamond has a good record here (211) and it would be no surprise if she found more.

Undervalued Asset’s barnmate Guns ‘n’ Graces (20-1) caught the eye when breaking her maiden over a mile at Tampa Bay Downs in December, winning by three and a half lengths. The layoff won’t be an issue and she should be of interest to exotics players.

Davona Dale Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
AtomicallyEdgar Perez+800
Infinite DiamondJose L. Ortiz+1000
Red Carpet ReadyLuis Seaz+200
Positano SunsetJulien R. Leparoux+800
Undervalued AssetIrad Ortiz, Jr.+300
Guns n’ GracesJoel Rosario+2000
LynxEdgard J. Zayas+1200
Adeliese’s SmileLeonel Reyes+3000
Dorth VaderMiguel Angel Vasquez+1500
Leave No TraceTyler Gaffalione+500

Leave No Trace is the class act, but there may well be more to come from G3 winner RED CARPET READY and she should appreciate stretching out to a mile.

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