"Sometimes we gain more from defeat than victory."
For two days I have been watching replays of the Fountain of Youth, and each time, I come away thinking the same thing: Court Vision, despite finishing third, was the most impressive 3-year-old in the race.
Take nothing away from Cool Coal Man, who got a perfect stalking trip from Kent Desormeaux, or Elysium Fields, who showed tremendous determination, especially for a horse jumping from the maiden ranks into a graded stakes that supposedly had many of the top Derby contenders. Both of them proved that they are good enough to be in the hunt.
But watching Court Vision fall behind by more than 13 lengths at the half-mile pole and then rally the way he did, was more meaningful to me. It proved that the son of Gulch, while still with a lot of work to do, is here to stay. That is more than we can say about some of the others last weekend.
We all knew that Court Vision had the heart. We saw that in the Remsen, when he was trapped, banged, and bumped, somehow still managing to get up by a neck. That performance is why he went off as the 4-1 second choice in the Fountain of Youth.
But after being last in a talented field of 12, having to go 7-wide around the final turn, and lose by only about six lengths, was telling. He could have easily given up.
It reminded me of what Curlin did in last year’s Derby, when he made that late move to get third. It was a telling sign of things to come.
Also, don’t forget that Court Vision was coming off a three-month layoff, and was not sharpened for speed in this race. To have any shot against War Pass and some of the other burners, Bill Mott will have to get him to stay closer to the pace. He does not possess the blazing type of speed to win from that far back.
But this is an honest, tough horse who is a legitimate closer. Mott was happy with his performance, and although he did not say where he will send him next, is going to have him ready.
At this point in the game nobody knows who is going to win on May 3. There is too much time left. The only thing we can do is eliminate pretenders and look for signs from contenders.
Court Vision is a contender.