With a total of 85 Road to the Kentucky Derby points on
the line in the Gotham Stakes (G3),
there are plenty of questions to answer. A field of 11 is entered to run on the
Aqueduct inner track for the third stop on the New York Trail to the Derby.
Speed or Closer?
The Gotham is shaping up
to be a classic battle of front running horses and those that like to come off
the pace. Although the most successful
running style in the Kentucky Derby is from well off the pace, at Aqueduct it
is usually a good idea to be close to the lead.
Samraat and Uncle Sigh renew their rivalry
after running first and second all the way around inner track in the Withers.
Back in February the two speedy New York-breds beat a field of six by 10
lengths. In the Gotham Deceived, Extrasexyhippzter, and Master Lightning like
to run on or near the lead.
Coming from off the pace
will be Harpoon, who ran a very big
race to finish a nose behind the winner in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay.
The undefeated In Trouble has won
both of his races from a stalking position, including a victory in the Futurity
(G2) at Belmont Park. In Trouble will be making his 2014 debut in the Gotham
and trainer Tony Dutrow says he is ready, "He's excellent. He's really, really happy. I
feel the horse is ready to give us what he's got Saturday."
Mogul, Noble Cornerstone, Classic Giacnroll, and Monopolize have also shown a
liking to run behind the early pacesetters.
you want to get a better picture of the running styles of the main contenders,
here are video links to their last performances.
Home Track Advantage?
Seven of the 11 starters
have already run on the Aqueduct inner track and six of them have at least one
win there. Four of the horses are New York-breds including the 5-2 morning line
favored coupled entry of Samraat and Noble Cornerstone, who share the owner and breeder [My Meadowview Farm] and sire
[Noble Causeway]. The rest of the field consists of two Pennsylvania-breds and
five from the farms in Kentucky.
Pletcher or Not?
The always dangerous Todd
Pletcher has three horses entered in the Gotham that have unusually high odds
for the six-time Eclipse award winning trainer. Harpoon is, what seems like an
unrealistic, 10-1 on the morning line and runs for the Let’s Go Stable of
Verrazano fame. Master Lightning is
listed at 20-1 and has been training here in New York over the winter. Monopolize is a $500,000 yearling who
runs for the Repole Stable. There has been mention that he may be scratched for
a different spot.
Here is Pletcher’s take
on his contenders, "Normally I wouldn't like the outside draw [for Harpoon] but after
his last race from post position 1, I would say it's a good post position for
him. We're hoping Master Lightning shows up with his 'A' game. He's shown in
the past he's capable but he's been a bit erratic. This would be a good time
for him to show up."
Can They Do It Again?
In the end the biggest question for the Gotham is whether Samraat and
Uncle Sigh can repeat their performances from the Withers? With a field of 10
or 11, it would seem unlikely. There is value with Harpoon, Extrasexyhippzter, and Financial Mogul, but are they ready to
step up and win a graded stake? Also, can In Trouble win this tough a race
after the long layoff?
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