It doesn't take a massive, in-depth study of Algorithms' race record to see why he already has his connections comparing him to some of their standout performers of the past.
In just three career starts, the son of Bernardini has proven a quick study — taking down every opponent in his path including the horse deemed the front-runner of his division.
Should Algorithms pass his latest test in Sunday's Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the precocious bay colt probably will become the horse the rest of his classmates are going to be measured against from now until May.
Given the talent level of the eight-horse field entered Thursday for the $400,000 Fountain of Youth, there is a good chance Sunday's victor will be labeled the pro-tem leader on the Kentucky Derby trail.
In addition to Grade I winner Union Rags, who will break from post No. 7 in his season debut, the 11⁄16-mile prep race also features a powerful 1-2 arsenal from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher in Algorithms and his undefeated stablemate, Discreet Dancer.
Algorithms will break from post No. 2 with jockey Javier Castellano aboard while Discreet Dancer landed in post No. 5.
While Union Rags was getting cranked up for his 2012 debut, Algorithms swept in and became an overnight sensation of sorts with his decisive victory over juvenile champion Hansen in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 29.
When a horse trounces an Eclipse Award winner by 5 lengths in his first try against stakes company, people sit up and take notice. Though light on race experience, Algorithms has looked like anything but a novice in winning each of his starts in a tactical, professional fashion.
"It's amazing to get anything else done when you get up in the morning and you think about what this horse is going to do next," said Jack Wolf, founder of the Starlight Racing partnership that owns Algorithms. "Having one of the top horses, it's very exciting. It's a little scary taking on a horse like (Union Rags) at any point, but it's really pretty exciting to have three horses of this caliber (facing each other) this early.
"If you don't like action in this sport, you're in the wrong sport."
Starlight Racing has been through the Kentucky Derby wringer before, most notably with Grade I winner Harlan's Holiday who finished seventh as the favorite in 2002.
Though Algorithms doesn't yet own Harlan's Holiday's top-level wins, Wolf believes his 2012 contender has more of the intangibles needed to make a classic contender than any of the stable's previous runners. That includes Algorithms' half-brother Keyed Entry, who finished 20th for Starlight in the 2006 Kentucky Derby.
"Even though Harlan's Holiday ended up being the favorite, we probably over-raced him a little bit and ... by the time we got to the Derby he was pretty much done," Wolf said. "Algorithms has the talent level that Harlan's Holiday had and, in fact, I think has more talent. He's got better breeding and this horse could be a real special horse."
After breaking his maiden at Belmont Park last June, Algorithms didn't race again until mid-December because of a mild hock issue that did not require surgery,
However, even before his Holy Bull triumph, the colt had earned Pletcher's regard with the way he conducted himself in his training. If Algorithms can stand out in the mornings among the likes of Discreet Dancer — who has won his first two starts by a combined 151/4 lengths — his owners hope he will do the same come Sunday.
"I know a lot of people criticize Todd for running horses like ours and Discreet Dancer against each other, but I think it's an advantage," Wolf said. "He's a great evaluator of talent and if he could have separated the two of them, he would have.
"This horse tries so hard, I would think he'd be sharp enough to win this race."