Fountain of Youth: Easy Win for Dornoch After Scratches

Locked, scratched. Victory Avenue, scratched. Speak Easy, scratched. Merit, scratched.

With four of the five leading contenders out of the race, Dornoch was bet down to 1-5 and won the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Danny Gargan wasn’t planning on a win in Dornoch’s 3-year-old debut but was pleased that the 1 1/6-mile race didn’t take too much out of his Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.

Dornoch was an easy winner of the Fountain of Youth after several top rivals scratched

The scratches whittled the field to five. Locked and Speak Easy are both trained by Todd Pletcher. Locked, already a top Derby contender off his win in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), missed a second straight 3-year-old debut; Speak Easy was a late scratch after getting loose in the shoot and hitting the rail.

Merit ran in a race on Friday, and Victory Avenue had a slight fever.

Dornoch Secures Second Place with 60 Kentucky Derby Qualifying Points

Dornoch ($2.40), a winner of three straight, picked up 50 Derby qualifying points and moved into second place on the leaderboard with 60. Le Dom Bro, a 27-1 longshot, was second, followed by Frankie’s Empire, Real Macho, and Dancing Groom – each earning qualifying points on a sliding scale of 25-15-10-5.

The winning margin was 1 ¾ lengths. The winning time was 1:43.64 over a fast track.

Adaptability on Display: Gargan’s Race Plan Evolution

Gargan said the plan was to stalk the expected pacesetter Speak Easy.

“We didn’t want to be on the lead but when [Speak Easy] scratched, he gets out there and he kind of plays around,’’ Gargan said. “You can see him with his ears kind of goofing off. I told Luis (Saez), ‘Just go ahead and go.’ We had no choice. We really wanted to stalk, it just didn’t work out that way. He won fine enough. Surely it won’t be his fastest race.”

Next up? Gargan is happy there are choices for the colt who is a full brother of 2023 Derby winner Mage.

“We could run in the Florida Derby (March 30) or the Blue Grass (April 6),” he 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.”



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