2016 Gotham Stakes Preview

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Image courtesy Nicolle Neulist.

Only two months of preparation, racing, workouts, and whatnot remain before that First Saturday in May.  The Kentucky Derby-bound three-year-olds are on stage this week with the Gotham Stakes.  Three-year-olds will battle at a mile and a sixteenth in this Grade Three on the inner dirt for a purse of four hundred thousand dollars.  The race offers Kentucky Derby points too, in a 50-20-10-5 allotment to the 1-2-3-4 positions.

For years the Gotham was run at a one-turn mile on the main track (and with a rich and stored history, as detailed at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary in an excellent piece from Terry Conway). It shifted permanently (and changed distances to 1 & 1/16 miles) to the inner track in 2006.  The final local prep to the Grade One Wood Memorial in a month, its best known winners in the more recent inner track days are Stay Thirsty and Hansen.  Stay Thirsty won the Gotham and Travers in his three-year-old season of 2011 while Hansen, the two-year-old champ of 2011, won the 2012 Gotham while being as well known for his blue tail and squishy toys made in his likeness.

Three-year-olds remain the focus of Picks & Ponderings‘s winter pieces.  Nicolle Neulist offers a look at the G3 Santa Ysabel on Saturday from Santa Anita and the Group 3 UAE Oaks from Meydan on Thursday.

Morning line odds for this race, scheduled for Saturday, March 5, were not available at original publish time.  Updated Thursday, March 3 to add moring lines.

Aqueduct — Race 9 — G3 Gotham Stakes — One and one-sixteenth miles on Inner Dirt — post time 4:50 pm ET

The prep race a month ago over this oval, the G3 Withers, served as a referendum on Jerome winner Flexibility, and the results showed him to be more chaff than wheat going forward on the Derby Trail.  Flexibility, as chaff, hasn’t moved on to this race.  The winner of the Withers has. Whether or not SUNNY RIDGE is a legitimate ten furlongs on the First Saturday in May horse  remains to be seen, but he draws a similar outside post to what he had in the Withers, gets more pace to attack than he had that day (where he was close to it), and goes second off the layoff in the Gotham.  Manny Franco has the return mount for Jason Servis.  His gameness that he demonstrated in earning a silver medal in the G3 Delta Jackpot and winning the G3 Withers should help him in a race where the stretchout speed of RALLY CRY and SHAGAF could easily backpedal in the lane.  While SHAGAF is a stretch-out horse going two turns for the first time, his two prior races were both at one-turn miles, and both were wins.  A winner on debut over the Big A’s main track two back and a winner last time at Gulfstream, SHAGAF could be the race’s steam horse.   That’s mainly due to the attention paid to three-year-old maiden races at Gulfstream (It’s a three-year-old race! At Gulfstream! With potential Derby runners!); the same way summertime races at Saratoga are viewed.  This space isn’t about to jump on the bandwagon, especially with humans that draw money, form that draws money.  Sometimes the shift from an outside post to an inside post is enough to help a runner, and ADVENTIST gets such a favorable shift.  There’s room for progression with ADVENTIST, who looked green in the Withers (at least, in the chartcaller’s eyes).  There’s room for progression with the Gotham serving as only his third career start.  And he moves to post three after doing his work from the outside in the Gotham.

Selections:

#7 SUNNY RIDGE (7/2)

#2 SHAGAF (3/1)

#3 ADVENTIST (4/1)

Longshot: What the Warrens in California and the Ramseys with their kittens have done recently with their naming of horses has been copied by other owners.  On the Derby trail this year, Tom Benson (owner of the New Orleans Saints, among other things) has his pair of Mo Tom and Tom’s Ready.  From this idea of easy-to-trace naming comes #4 VINCENTO (20/1)  (owned by Vincent Scuderi) from Rudy Rodriguez’s shedrow.  Two back a winner of a state-bred first-level allowance, he went next in the Gander Stakes against fellow NY-breds and checked in fourth.  The G3 Gotham represents a significant class hike, and VINCENTO has never raced in open company.  However, there are signs of hope for Angel Arroyo’s’assigned mount in the Gotham.  His stalking/closing style will work well in a Gotham where the pace projects to be legitimate and his pedigree — by Broad Brush out of an Include mare — is more suited to a mile and a sixteenth than others.

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Filed under: Aqueduct, horse racing

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