Buddy’s Saint ready for Fountain of Youth

Before winter dug in at Aqueduct and the snow started falling in

New York, Buddy’s Saint declared himself a Kentucky Derby prospect

in November with a pair of graded-stakes victories totaling 16 3/4

lengths.

The racing world was impressed, and veteran trainer Bruce Levine

announced he “wouldn’t trade places with anyone in America.”

Three months later, and just 10 weeks from the Kentucky Derby,

Buddy’s Saint returns to the races Saturday at sunny Gulfstream

Park in the $250,000 Fountain of Youth. A strong showing would

solidify his reputation and live up to Levine’s lofty

expectations.

The 1 1/8th mile Fountain of Youth, one of several Derby preps

across the country, drew a field of 10 including Holy Bull

runner-up Jackson Bend, Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Aikenite and

Pilgram winner Eskendereya.

For Levine, who’s waited 30 years to saddle a horse in the

Kentucky Derby, the Fountain of Youth can’t come quick enough.

“It’s been three months between drinks and it’s been kind of

nerve-racking waiting with a horse like this,” he said. “But he’s

training great, working beyond my expectations, and it’s time to

get started on the Derby trail and for him to earn his stripes

again.”

Buddy’s Saint, a member of the only crop of foals by deceased

2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, did everything right as a

2-year-old. Two weeks after being disqualified at Belmont Park from

first to second in his Sept. 26 racing debut, Buddy’s Saint won the

Nashua at Aqueduct by 12 lengths. Three weeks later, he returned to

win the Remsen at 1 1/8 miles by 4 3/4 lengths.

Levine decided after the Remsen he would winter Buddy’s Saint in

Florida and prepare him for the Derby with only two prep races –

the Fountain of Youth and most likely the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct

on April 3.

“I pretty much made my mind up we’d give him some time after

the Remsen to grow up and mature a little,” Levine said. “I’ve

done a little more with him between breezes, putting a lot of miles

under him with the Triple Crown in mind. But it’s hard to ever know

if you’ve got one ready when you haven’t run in three months and

you’re starting at 1 1/8 miles.”

Two-time Derby winner Nick Zito will saddle Jackson Bend. A

winner of five of six starts as a 2-year-old, Jackson Bend finished

a game second in the Holy Bull on Jan. 23 despite a wide trip.

In other Derby preps Saturday:

– Ron the Greek, winner of the Lecomte Stakes, is the 3-1

morning line favorite against 11 others in the $300,000 Risen Star

at the Fair Grounds.

– Dublin, a Grade 1 winner last summer for trainer D. Wayne

Lukas, leads a field of 10 in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at

Oaklawn Park. The Bob Baffert-trained Conveyance, winner of the San

Rafael at Santa Anita, is also entered.

– Saratoga Special and Belmont Futurity winner D’Funnybone makes

his 3-year-old debut in the $150,000 Hutcheson at Gulfstream

against seven others including Radiohead, a stakes winner last year

in Great Britain.

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