By Jim Freer
Gunnevera blew past his rivals entering the stretch in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream, and won in a way that put a resounding stamp on a ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
Gunnevera beat Practical Joke by 5 ¾ lengths in the 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth (Grade 2). Three Rules finished third, another half-length back, in the race run in the twilight.
With Javier Castellano riding, Gunnevera rallied from tenth and last place after a half mile to win in 1:44.25 on the dirt track listed as fast.
That was the fifth slowest time in the last six runnings of the Holy Bull. But it came on a day when several winning times were relatively slow on the Gulfstream dirt.
In addition to the winner’s share of $235,000 of the $400,000 purse, Gunnevera earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) that will be run May 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
That gives the son of Dialed In 64 qualifying points. Last year, 32 points were needed to make the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
Barring an injury, trainer Antonio Sano and owner Peacock Racing Stables plan to take Gunnevera to Louisville for that race.
(Note: photo on home page is Gunnevera being led into the winner’s circle on Saturday – photo by Barry Unterbrink).
Before that, he likely will run in the 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby (Grade 1) on April 1. Dialed In, also known as a deep closer, won that race in 2011.
Saturday’s win was the fourth for Gunnevera in eight career starts, and third victory in a graded stakes.
On Sunday evening, we will have an expanded report on the Fountain of Youth and on Monday morning will have detailed coverage of Saturday’s other stakes races at Gulfstream.