The Todd Pletcher trained Itsaknockout was awarded the victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The Rick Violette Jr. trained Upstart crossed the finish line first but was disqualified for interfering with Itsaknockout in the deep stretch run.
Upstart had apparently won the race though he had lost his line in deep stretch and bumped in to Itsaknockout. Most observers felt that while contact did occur that it didn’t impact the placement of the finishers–the litmus test for a disqualification. The Gulfstream Park stewards felt otherwise and DQ’d Upstart giving Itsaknockout the win. The entire race was somewhat strange with none of the horses–including the ‘two winners’ distinguishing themselves early. The entire field looked to be having issues with the track surface throughout the event. The one horse that didn’t seem to struggle with the surface was Frosted, who quickly moved to the front and appeared to be well in control before completely falling apart late in his run. The track surface was supposedly ‘fast’ though it sure didn’t look like it.
As Frosted flaked a group of three horses including Itsaknockout and Upstart. The two horses involved in the controversial decision quickly found separation and appeared to cross the finish line 1-2 prior to the disqualification. Frammento closed from the rear of the field to finish third. Itsaknockout was making his first two turn start and earned 50 Derby qualification points for the win. The qualification points were a bigger issue among the trainers than the purse money.
After the race, the connections of the various horses held their party line. Pletcher called it a ‘jump ball’ while Violette called it a ‘terrible decision’. Itsaknockout’s jockey Luis Saez clearly demonstrated that it wasn’t his ‘first rodeo’ with his comment: “The other horse came out and bothered me. I couldn’t ride my horse.” He did qualify this by agreeing that it was a ‘tough decision’. Violette suggested that another horse might have hit Upstart on the rear causing him to move to the right though there was no video evidence to corroborate his theory. Pletcher was pleased with his horse’s run though allowed that he ‘felt bad’ for the connections of Upstart.