Promises Fulfilled Leads All The Way For 18-1 Upset In Fountain Of Youth

Robert J. Baron’s Promises Fulfilled did just that in Saturday’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, winning the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race by 2 1/4 lengths to give Irad Ortiz his fifth win of the day. The 3-year-old son of Shackleford, trained by Dale Romans, led from gate to wire to complete 1 1/16 miles over Gulfstream Park’s fast main track in 1:44.17. Promises Fulfilled was an 18-1 longshot on the tote board, but finished ahead of both 7-2 Strike Power and 3-5 favorite Good Magic, the latter last year’s Juvenile Champion.

“He’s right up there,” said Baron when asked if the winner is the best horse he has ever owned. “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.”

Promises Fulfilled earned 50 points toward the first Saturday in May, scoring his first graded stakes win in the process. The colt had not raced since a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at the end of November. Dale Romans had three entrants in the Fountain of Youth, but scratched Free Drop Billy to re-route the chestnut to the Gotham Stakes in New York.

“The trainer told me to go to the lead and hold on,” relayed Irad Ortiz. “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.”

The updated Road to the Kentucky Derby standings are available here: Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.

Ortiz sent Promises Fulfilled hard from his outside post position, quickly overcoming the disadvantage as he crossed over to the rail in front of the rest of the 10-horse field. Their first quarter was a bit quick in :23.80, but Ortiz had him settled down to mark the half-mile in :48.39. Promises Fulfilled was about two lengths in front of the duo of Strike Power and Good Magic, with Romans-trained stablemate Storm Runner just in behind.

“I thought that he could open up, and he did,” said Romans. “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.”

Mid-way down the backstretch, Joel Rosario tried to move Storm Runner up the rail inside of Promises Fulfilled, but had to tap on the brakes as the gap was just not wide enough. Meanwhile, Strike Power had begun to close the gap on Promises Fulfilled, reaching his hip as he ground through the far turn.

Good Magic did not respond when asked, so it was up to the talented sprinter Strike Power to extend his speed to the two-turn distance. He had been a little bit rank in the early stages under Luis Saez, and it may have cost him late as he was extremely leg weary in the final eighth of a mile. Crossing under the wire of the short stretch unchallenged, Promises Fulfilled looked to have plenty left in the tank as he finished a measured 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Strike Power. Good Magic finished third with no visible excuse, and Machismo beat out Marconi to finish fourth.

Of champion Good Magic, jockey Jose Ortiz said: “He broke good. Irad went and Saez was second. I sat third in the perfect position, rode him like the best horse. They slowed it down on the backside pretty good, going 23, 48 but my horse was pretty handy getting whatever I wanted to. When I went after them in the three-eighths pole, he didn’t kick very well. It’s a speed favoring track with a short stretch, but no excuses. He’s coming off the layoff and I’m sure he will move forward with this race under his belt, next time we’ll be okay.”

Bred in Kentucky by David Jacobs, Promises Fulfilled is out of the Marquetry mare Marquee Delivery, a multiple graded stakes-placed runner. As a yearling, the colt brought $37,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale with Dale Romans as agent. Promises Fulfilled won his first two starts, then finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes before he was put away for the winter. Overall, he has won three of his four starts for earnings of nearly $330,000.

“I had a lot of confidence in this horse because of the way he trained,” Romans added. “He trained so well, and the race he ran when he was third was as impressive a race as a horse can run. To do what he did and be as compromised as he was and still run third to two good horses, he’s a special horse. The way he’s been working over this racetrack, he’ll take his racetrack with him. He doesn’t care where he is.”

Jockey Irad Ortiz and Promises Fulfilled upset the @Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes for trainer @Romansracing @GulfstreamPark
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