Triple Crown: Dornoch’s win has him in Derby top five

Dornoch, a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage, made a significant step along the Road to the Triple Crown Saturday at Gulfstream Park, scoring a commanding victory in the $400,000 Coolmore Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park as the 1-5 favorite.

Dornoch won the Fountain of Youth. Photo by Angelo Lieto.

The 78th running of the Coolmore Fountain of Youth, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds that serves as a key prep for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 30 at Gulfstream, headlined a spectacular 14-race program that featured nine stakes, eight graded.

Dornoch has earned 60 qualifying points for this year’s Kentucky Derby after collecting 50 in the Fountain of Youth.

 “We could run in the Florida Derby or the Blue Grass (at Keeneland April 6),” trainer Danny Gargan said. “We’re lucky enough now where we can pick our spot. Sixty points usually gets you in, so now we’re on cruise control. We’ll figure out where we want to go next and try to enjoy this for a minute.”

The Fountain of Youth field was reduced to five when Speak Easy was scratched after unseating jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and running off directly following the post parade. The field had already lost Merit, who finished second behind Conquest Warrior in a Friday optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream, as well as Locked, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, and Victory Avenue, who finished second behind Speak Easy in his debut, both of whom were withdrawn Saturday morning.

Owned by West Paces Racing LLC, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing, Pine Racing Stables, Dornoch took advantage of the scratch of Speak Easy, who showed brilliant speed in a highly promising debut victory Jan. 27. The son of Good Magic rounded the first turn outside 25-1 longshot Le Dom Bro before taking the lead for good at the top of the backstretch under Luis Saez. Real Macho was kept in relatively close pursuit by jockey Tyler Gaffalione as Dornoch set fractions of 24.39 and 48.14 for the first half-mile.

As Real Macho dropped back, Le Dom Bro tried to make a race of it again leaving the turn into the stretch under Edwin Gonzalez, but Dornoch remained strong in the stretch run to win by 1 ¾ lengths.

IN THE GOTHAM STAKES AT AQUEDUCT, Deterministic rallied past mid-stretch leader El Grande O to improve to 2-for-2 in his young career and earn the 50 Derby points that go along with it. Joel Rosario was up for trainer Christophe Clement and an ownership group that includes St. Elias Stables, which purchased the Liam’s Map colt as a yearling for $625,000…

IN THE JOHN BATTAGLIA MEMORIAL STAKES, a race offering 20 points to the winner contested on the synthetic at Turfway Park, Encino under former Midlantic jockey Axel Concepcion wore down favored Epic Ride to get the money. Encino is trained by Brad Cox for Godolphin LLC.

THE SAN FELIPE STAKES AT SANTA ANITA PARK was well-nigh irrelevant in terms of the Kentucky Derby, despite offering 50 points to the winner. That’s because the top pair — Imagination and Wine Me Up — both are trained by Bob Baffert, and neither he nor his runners are welcome at Churchill Downs. Points in the race went to Mc Vay and Scatify, neither of whom at this moment appears to be a top contender.


1.Timberlake66Brad Cox
2.Dornoch60Danny Gargan
3.Track Phantom55Steve Asmussen
4.Sierra Leone55Chad Brown
5.Deterministic50Christophe Clement
6.Fierceness36Todd Pletcher
7.El Grande O30Linda Rice
8.Common Defense27Kenny McPeek
9.Stronghold25Phil D’Amato
10.Le Dom Bro25Eniel Cordero
11.Just a Touch25Brad Cox
12.Catching Freedom25Brad Cox