Mohaymen leads field at Fountain Of Youth
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) Mohaymen's spot in the Kentucky Derby is already nearly assured, assuming he stays healthy.
It could become practically certified Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Since the Kentucky Derby went to the points system to help determine its field, every horse - at least, every uninjured or Triple Crown-nominated one - with 25 or more points accrued in the prep races has qualified for the Run for the Roses. So realistically, that means Mohaymen would need only to finish fourth out of an expected field of six at Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth to clinch his spot.
The undefeated horse has 20 points already, and the point structure for this race gives 50 to the winner, 20 for second, 10 for third and five for fourth. Of course, as one would expect, the horse's connections have bigger plans than him simply getting into the Derby field. They're looking to keep the momentum from the 4-for-4 start to his career rolling.
''You want to win with them all,'' Mohaymen's trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. ''It has worked out perfectly so far. This is going to be his toughest race to date.''
Mohaymen is one of three undefeated horses in the field: Awesome Banner is 3-for-3, two of those wins coming against graded stakes company, and Zulu is 2-for-2 for trainer Todd Pletcher - but is stepping way up in class Saturday.
''I don't see any reason he can't go further,'' said Awesome Banner's trainer, Stanley Gold, whose horse has won easily at 6- and 7-furlong distances this year, but will try 1 1-16 miles for the first time Saturday. ''It's not like we're pushing him around there and he's in a stiff drive. He's been pretty much eased up coming to the wire in both of those races. And I'm not sure he won't be more comfortable not even having to get sent to the front.''
Awesome Speed was a nonfactor in debut race last August, but is 3-for-3 since and had a win at Gulfstream last month in the Mucho Macho Man. Fellowship has two wins in nine starts, but already has picked up $428,740 in earnings and is coming off a third-place showing in the Holy Bull - six lengths back of Mohaymen.
Rounding out the field is expected longshot Golden Ray, who has been beaten by a combined 46 3-4 lengths in his first three starts of 2016.
''It's a tough race,'' McLaughlin said. ''But I wouldn't trade places with anybody.''