Gunnevera blew past his rivals entering the stretch in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream, and won in a way that put a resounding stamp on a ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
Gunnevera beat Practical Joke by 5 ¾ lengths in the 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth (Grade 2). Three Rules finished third, another half-length back.
With Javier Castellano riding, Gunnevera rallied from tenth and last place after a half mile to win in 1:44.25 on the dirt track listed as fast.
That was the fifth slowest time in the last six runnings of the Holy Bull. But it came on a day when several winning times were relatively slow on the Gulfstream dirt.
In addition to the winner’s share of $235,000 of the $400,000 purse, Gunnevera earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) that will be run May 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
That gives the son of Dialed In 64 qualifying points. Last year, 32 points were needed to make the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
Barring an injury, trainer Antonio Sano and owner Peacock Racing Stables plan to take Gunnevera to Louisville for that race.
(Note: photo on home page is Gunnevera being led into the winner’s circle on Saturday – photo by Barry Unterbrink).
Before that, he likely will run in the 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby (Grade 1) on April 1. Dialed In, also known as a deep closer, won that race in 2011.
Saturday’s win was the fourth for Gunnevera in eight career starts, and third victory in a graded stakes.