(Shotski / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:

Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Howling Pigeon Farms’ Grade 2-winning 3-year-old Shotski, second in his sophomore debut earlier this month, may take his next steps on the Triple Crown trail in South Florida.

Trainer Jerry O’Dwyer, based at Laurel Park in Maryland, said the connections are taking a look at the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) Saturday, Feb. 29 at Gulfstream Park for Shotski’s next start.

“For now we’re still on the [Triple Crown] trail, trying to get points and see where we go,” O’Dwyer said. “I’ll have to discuss it with the owners, but [for] the next step we might go down for the Fountain of Youth. He’s bright-eyed here in his stall. I gave him two days off after the [last] race and brought him back to the track. He’s been a handful just walking around the shedrow, just feeling good.”

A bay son of Blame out of the Bluegrass Cat mare She Cat, his sire and grandsire both Grade 1-winning millionaires, Shotski was a front-running half-length winner of the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) in his juvenile finale Dec. 7. He returned to Aqueduct for to launch his 3-year-old campaign in the Feb. 1 Withers (G3), also at nine furlongs, where he led from the gate into deep stretch before yielding late and finishing 3 ¼ lengths behind winner Max Player.

“I was very happy. Obviously in the moment you’re disappointed you didn’t win, but looking back at it I wasn’t disappointed in him at all,” O’Dwyer said. “He went out there on the front end and hadn’t run in like seven weeks, and they pressured him the whole way. He never really got a breather or an easy time like the last time when he won the Remsen.

“I thought we were going to be able to sit in behind this time, which I would have liked to have seen, but when he got out there he was off a little bit tardy and [jockey] Luis [Saez] just wanted to push him forward into a prominent position,” he added. “He kind of just locked on for a few strides going into that first bend. Luis said he opted to just let him go on up there instead of trying to choke him down and take him back. Every time a horse came to him, he fought on and put every one of them away. I’m very proud of him. We have not lost any faith in the horse at all.”

O’Dwyer said course layout is a factor in determining Shotski’s next start. The Fountain of Youth is run at 1 1/16 miles, while New York’s next points race for 3-year-olds is the one-mile Gotham (G3) March 7.

“We have him going two turns now. The Fountain of Youth is two turns, so that’s kind of swaying us to go down and keep him going two turns instead of dropping back to a one-turn mile in the Gotham,” O’Dwyer said. “I do think I’d like to get him off the Aqueduct surface right now, because it’s very testing and tiring and I don’t want to bottom him. It’s going to be a long year ahead.”

The Fountain of Youth is Gulfstream’s final prep for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), contested at 1 1/8 miles Saturday, March 28.