In many respects, Trust N Luck doesn't fit the profile of a Kentucky Derby horse. He's a one-dimensional front-runner. He doesn't have a distance-running pedigree. He's not from a fashionable stable.
But under the right circumstance, Trust N Luck can dominate his opposition with his raw speed, as he did today in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, the East's first important prep race. He ran away from his seven rivals at Gulfstream Park and scored a 51/4-length victory.
This effort was by no means a fluke. In his last start at Calder Race Course, his home base, he scored an overpowering 11-length victory, earning a speed figure better than any member of his generation has earned in a race at a mile or more.
Still, Trust N Luck didn't get much respect here today, judging from his 9-to-2 odds. Some of his rivals looked much more like classic prospects -- such as the stretch-running favorite, Ten Cents A Shine, a member of trainer Ken McPeek's powerful stable.
But the trainers of classic prospects usually don't want their horses to be too speed-oriented, and nobody but Ralph Ziadie, Trust N Luck's trainer, wanted to see his horse in front. When jockey Cornelio Velasquez urged Trust N Luck from the gate, he was able to take a relatively easy lead. Jockey Edgar Prado was restraining the quick Whywhywhy. Jorge Chavez had to wrestle with Midway Cat to keep him from racing abreast of Trust N Luck.
As a result, Trust N Luck was two lengths in front after running a quarter-mile in moderate time, and the Fountain of Youth was as good as over. The leader shook off a mid-race challenge from Midway Cat, opened a four-length advantage on the turn and covered the 11/16 miles in 1 minute 43.33 seconds as long shot Supah Blitz rallied to finish second.
Ziadie said he would run Trust N Luck next in the $1 million Florida Derby, and then take him directly to the Kentucky Derby without any more prep races. Although Trust N Luck is a son of the sprinter Montbrook, Ziadie professed to be unconcerned about his colt's stamina. "I think the longer he goes, the better he is going to be," the trainer said. "He has not shown any signs of stopping."
The seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, run earlier on the card, produced a winner that looked like a genuine classic prospect. Lion Tamer, who looked impressive in his Gulfstream debut last month, dueled for the lead in 44.29 seconds and then drew off to an overpowering six-length victory over a good field.
"This horse has shown brilliance at times," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "It looks like he may be a special horse."
Fritchie Moved to Monday
The $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap, scheduled for yesterday at Laurel Park, was postponed because of the inclement weather. It has been moved to Monday's card as the co-feature with the $200,000 General George Handicap.
Laurel-based Xtra Heat, who has earned more than $2.2 million, and Carson Hollow, a New York-based filly who has won five of seven starts, are favored in the Fritchie.