HALLANDALE BEACH – Robert Baron’s Promises Fulfilled demonstrated promise for the spring classics Saturday at Gulfstream Park, registering a dominating front-running victory in the $400,000, Gr. II Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth and upsetting Eclipse Award-winner Good Magic in the process.
The 72nd running of the Fountain of Youth, a 1 1/16-mile prep for the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby on March 31, headlined a 14-race program that offered nine stakes, including eight graded stakes, worth $1.5 million in purses.
Promises Fulfilled, an 18-1 shot ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., earned 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with his 2 ¼-length triumph to clinch a spot in the field for the first leg of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs May 5.
The Dale Romans-trained son of Shackleford broke alertly from his outside post position to grab the early lead on the first turn, chased by Strike Power, the 7-2 second choice in the field of nine 3-year-olds. He was stalked by Good Magic, the 3-5 favorite making his first start since capturing the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar last November.
Promises Fulfilled set fractions of :23.80 and :48.39 for the half mile as he showed the way along the backstretch, challenged briefly by Storm Runner, a stablemate in the Romans Stable who dropped out of contention soon after. The pacesetter was challenged on the outside by Strike Power on the turn into the homestretch but kicked away to win by a comfortable margin.
Romans had entered three horses in the Fountain of Youth but scratched Free Drop Billy Saturday morning while opting to run the Gr. 1 stakes-winner in the Gr. III Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct next Saturday. Promises Fulfilled, who won his first two races before finishing third in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last year, proved up to the task of getting his trainer to the winner’s circle while making his 2018 debut.
Strike Power, who won his debut and the Gr. III Swale Stakes, tasted defeated for the first time while finishing 2 ¼ lengths clear of Good Magic, who finished two lengths clear of Machismo after racing evenly.
Promises Fulfillied ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.17 while stamping himself as a strong contender for the Florida Derby, which has been won the past two years by Always Dreaming and Nyquist, who both went on the win the Kentucky Derby.
“If a horse runs good here, you keep them here,” Romans said.
BIG DAY AT THE WINDOWS - Saturday's handle produced a Fountain of Youth day record of $28,541,305, up 6.92% from last year's previous record of $26,693,000.