Robert J. Baron’s Promises Fulfilled broke smartly from the far outside post position (10), sped to the lead and never looked back, cruising to a to a 2 ¼-length score in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream Park under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. In doing so, the Dale Romans trainee picked up 50 points to make the gate for the May 5 Kentucky Derby (GI), bringing his total to 51, thanks to the one point he earned for finishing third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) Stakes last November. He now sits second behind Bravazo (54) on the list of Derby point-earners.
The son of 2011 Preakness Stakes (GI) hero Shackleford logged splits of :23.80, :48.39, 1:12.60 — with Strike Power, Storm Runner and champion Good Magic stalking about a length behind waiting for the leader to grow weary on the front end. As Promises Fulfilled maintained his energy and led the field around the bend full of run, his pursuers began to labor and soon after he straightened out for the drive, he received a couple of taps from Ortiz — mostly to keep his mind on business — and continued on to the wire to earn his first career stakes victory. After posting a mile in 1:37.59, Promises Fulfilled stopped the clock in 1:44.17 over a fast main track.
“The trainer told me to go to the lead and hold on,” Ortiz said. “When I asked my horse, he just took off again. He was impressive today, he ran the whole race. He broke great and was ready, the trainer was right.”
At odds of more than 18-1, Promises Fulfilled returned $38.40, $12.80 and $4.60. Strike Power held on to second and was good for $6.40 and $3.60 at odds of nearly 4-1. Good Magic was another 2 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $2.20 at odds of just greater than 3-5. The exacta paid $230 for a $2 wager and the $1 trifecta was good for $254.70.
Machismo, Marconi, Gotta Go, Storm Runner, He Takes Charge and Peppered rounded out the order of finish after Free Drop Billy was scratched.
“I thought that he could open up, and he did,” Romans said. “It was a bunch of fast horses, but a lot of times that speed doesn’t materialize, and coming from the outside it kind of pressed our hand. On the turn, if you wait to see what everybody else does, you’re going to be hung wide. I just told the jock, ‘Push the pedal and try to open up and see where they go from there. If somebody comes and chases you down the backside, then ride a smart race.’ They let him go in :48 with his ears up and I knew it was going to take a heck of a horse to pass him at that point.”
Kentucky-bred Promises Fulfilled is out of the graded stakes-placed Marquetry mare Marquee Delivery and was purchased by his trainer, who also conditioned his sire, for $37,000 out of the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. He’s now won three of four career starts and has earned $327,280.
“Dale has done a great job with this horse. I’m so excited,” Baron said. “I’ve never won the Fountain of Youth, I’ll tell you that much, and we’re on the Derby trail so it’s very exciting. This is the biggest win of my career. Been with Dale since 1997 or ’98. We’ve been together a long time. He’s like family.”
Good Magic’s connections offered few excuses for their champion’s loss only citing the winter freshening as a possible reason for his performance.
“He got a good trip,” trainer Chad Brown said. “He had no trouble and got good position early. The latter part of the race, he didn’t have it. The horses that were 1-2 the whole way just kicked ahead of him. The horse came back a little tired. He was blowing pretty good. It looked like he needed the race. Hopefully, he got what he needed out of it and go on to the next step.”