The Pace Can Compromise the Best in the Field

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A look at the 2013 Fountain of Youth Stakes

By Art Parker

The 2013 edition of the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park proved to be an exciting race that yielded two conclusions. The first conclusion is a confirmation that quite often the pace makes the race and even the best horse in a field is subject to disappointment when the pace is not right.

Gulfstream Park paddockMajestic Hussar popped out of the Gulfstream gate and seized the lead proving to be the quickest of several early speed types. The leader held an advantage of a length or so over the balance of the first flight, which included heavy favorite, Violence. That first flight was clearly running away from all the others in the early stages of the race. Just after Majestic Hussar posted a blistering 45 2/5 half mile you could see the others in the first flight were slipping. At that time the rider of Violence, Javier Castellano, realized that the leader may get away and he was the only one with a shot of stopping a runaway train. Castellano got busy on Violence, who confronted the leader and eventually took the lead when leaving the far turn.

The time for ¾ of a mile was an astonishing 1:08 4/5, a time that is much too hot for even the best older handicap horses, much less a 3 year old in the month of February. Castellano had no choice, in my opinion, but the move drained enough energy out of the leader where he could not hold off the fast charging winner named Orb. Even though the race did not have a speed duel on the front end, the pace made the race for a closer.

Besides confirming that pace can make a race the second conclusion is one regarding a specific horse. The most impressive horse in the race was Violence, who finished second by only a half length. The highly regard Violence turned out to be everything he was cracked up to be.  For those of you who get knee deep in handicapping the Kentucky Derby months in advance I suggest you put a ring around Violence. He was compromised about half way around and had to go all out too soon. The key element is his third quarter, which I calculated at 22 4/5 or 23 flat at worst. Violence is exceptionally well bred and probably has blue blood in his veins. A son of Medaglia d’Oro from the Gone West mare Violent Beauty, Violence is bred to run all day long. He was 3 for 3 coming into the Fountain of Youth and would still be undefeated had he not been compromised quite so much in the race.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately, this tremendous effort from Violence took its toll.  The talented 3yo was diagnosed with a fractured sesamoid and is off the Triple Crown trail.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 16-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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