The key race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby takes place at Gulfstream Park this weekend, as the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes is the 14th race on a busy card in Florida. Big clues could be on offer with the opening leg of the Triple Crown in mind, with the field set to compete over 1 1/16 miles for their share of the $400,000 purse.

Race Information & History

The Fountain of Youth Stakes has been held annually since 1945, with the Grade 2 open to horses aged three. It is the final race before the Florida Derby, which has historically been a vitally important race with the Kentucky Derby in mind. As such, this race has produced five winners of the big race at Churchill Downs.

The most recent of those was Orb in 2013. Forte landed the Fountain of Youth in 2023 to become the Derby favorite, but was ruled out of the Classic on medical grounds.

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Leading Contenders


Danny Gargan’s leading contender for the Derby this year will be looking to showcase his talents at Gulfstream Park this weekend. The three-year-old was an excellent winner of the G2 Remsen Stakes in muddy conditions in December, and that form has been franked following Sierra Leone’s excellent win in the G2 Risen Star.

Dornoch has previous winning experience over this distance after breaking his maiden over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland in October. However, the one concern would be that he could have something to find on ratings this weekend.


Todd Pletcher has an excellent record in the Fountain of Youth after winning the race on four previous occasions. A fifth win in the contest could be on the cards this weekend with the talented Locked. The three-year-old will be making his long-awaited return to the track for the first time this year after previously finishing third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

He was a high class performer as a two-year-old last season, which included a stunning victory in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity over 1 1/16 miles. Once again, he holds extremely solid claims this weekend.

Speak Easy

Todd Pletcher’s best chance in the race this weekend could come in the form of the unexposed Speak Easy. Irad Ortiz takes the ride on the talented three-year-old, who has made just one career start to date.

However, it was hard not to have been taken by that victory after he got the better of Victory Avenue over seven furlongs at Gulfstream, recording a speed rating of 114. Those two will once again do battle this weekend, and both will have leading claims of victory in this key trial for the Derby.

Fountain of Youth Stakes Prediction

A typically wide-open renewal of the Fountain of Youth is set for this weekend, with Pletcher holding the keys. Speak Easy looks primed for an improved effort over this extended trip, and he looks a solid play for exotics.

As does Locked. We are happy to fade Dornoch this weekend, as there is a belief that he is major player on slower ground. Victory Avenue could have the most upside over this extended distance as a son of Arrogate. He was held by Speak Easy over a shorter distance, but we could see a huge performance from him over 1 1/16 miles on Saturday.

Pick: Victory Avenue

Exacta Box: (1) Speak Easy/ (3) Victory Avenue/ (8) Locked