Ete Indien gets easy win in Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Ete Indien made a huge move right out of the gate and went on to win the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, a victory that will likely be enough to earn him a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

Breaking from the outside of the field, Ete Indien sprung as soon as the doors open and darted immediately toward the rail to start what became a wire-to-wire victory.

A slew of challengers jostled for spots behind him, but once the group hit the stretch Ete Indien took off and won easily for jockey Florent Geroux and trainer Patrick Biancone. Ete Indien finished the 8 1/2 furlongs in 1:43.02, and returned $8.60, $4.40 and $3.

“Good horses can overcome everything and I think he’s an exceptional horse,” Biancone said.

Next up for Ete Indien would likely be the Florida Derby at Gulfstream in four weeks.

“I think we’ll take a shot if he’s in good form,” Biancone said.

Candy Tycoon, a 23-1 shot, got just ahead of a four-horse cluster at the finish to place second and pay $16.40 and $7.60. As Seen On TV was third, paying $3.20.

Ete Indien got 50 points in the Race for the Kentucky Derby for his victory. That gives him 54 overall, and that amount has always been more than enough to secure a spot in the first race of the Triple Crown season – provided the horse is healthy and its connections want to go there.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.

Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.

Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.

Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.

“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.

The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.

Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.