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Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest

Fountain of Youth Featured in Road to Kentucky Contest

Week 5 of the annual Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest on Saturday focuses on the 14-race Gulfstream Park program with the feature race being the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes, a stepping stone to the May 1 Kentucky Derby. A field of 10 is assembled with the usual suspects Shug McGaughey, Dale Romans and Todd Pletcher represented. McGaughey trains Holy Bull winner Greatest Honour . The Fountain of Youth goes as the final race with a 5:10PM central time.

The Canterbury Park Racebook opens at 9:30 AM. First post at Gulfstream and entry deadline for the R2K contest is 10:30 AM.

It is possible to enter on Friday as well during Racebook hours of operation. Friday night also offers a Derby prep race in the Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park. The winner receives 10 Derby points this year in the Battaglia. Post time is 7:15 PM.

For all the details on this free-to-enter contest that pays both weekly and overall cash prizes, go to the R2K webpage.

Oaklawn may finally run the Southwest Stakes

Inclement weather forced racing officials at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Arkansas to cancel eight days of racing including the Presidents’ Day program that featured the $750,000 Southwest Stakes and the 3-year-old return of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Essential Quality. The Southwest is now set for Saturday and Essential Quality is entered. This important Derby prep also drew Jackie’s Warrior and West Coast Baffert invader Spielberg. Essential Quality is second on the Derby Points Leaderboard while Spielberg is eighth and Jackie’s Warrior ninth.

Also on Saturday are the $600,000 Razorback and the $200,000 Spring Fever Stakes in which there is a local connection. Now a multiple stakes winning race mare, in 2017 as a 2-year-old Amy’s Challenge was voted Canterbury Park Horse of the Meet. She sees action in the Spring Fever, a sprint that she won in 2019 and finished second in last year. Alex Canchari has the call for trainer Mac Robertson and Novogratz Racing. Although it had been announced last November following a Keeneland stakes romp that Amy’s Challenge would retire, she returned to training and on January 30 was second in the American Beauty at Oaklawn. She worked a bullet over the fast track Wednesday in preparation for Saturday’s battle.

Stakes stacked up at Oaklawn due to the cancellations so the star-studded racing continues Sunday with the Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes featuring the 2021 return of superstarlet Monomoy Girl who tore through an undefeated 2020 culminating in a Breeders’ Cup Distaff victory. Also Sunday is the Dixie Belle for 3-year-old fillies. Heart Full of Soul, winner of the Shakopee Juvenile at Canterbury last fall is entered for trainer Robertson with Francisco Arrieta up.

Hitting Home

Live racing is about 80 days away. The condition book is out and stall applications are due in early April. It is time to start thinking about the meet that begins May 18. Word arrived that jockey agent Pete Antonucci would again represent 2020 leading rider Ry Eikleberry who had been at Delta Downs and now Sam Houston Race Park. Antonucci will also handle business for Lindey Wade, a new face in the colony. The 31-year-old journeyman has won titles at Sam Houston, where he is currently, and Lone Star Park.

Speaking of Eikleberry, he will ride Northern Lights Debutante winner Star of the North on Saturday night in the rescheduled $75,000 Two Altazano Stakes. Disastrous winter weather caused the cancellation of several race days in Houston. Star of the North, a 3-year-old Minnesota bred filly owned by Michael Grossman and trained by Francisco Bravo, is even money in the six-horse field.