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2014 Kentucky Derby: Gotham Takeaways

 

It seems as though we are in the infancy of a budding rivalry, as Samraat and Uncle Sigh threw down yet again in the Aqueduct stretch and put on another showstopper in the Gotham. In Trouble, coming in off of a layoff, crashed the party this time, as we had ourselves an exhilarating three horse battle down to the line. The valiant winner, Samraat, came out on top and boosted his record to a perfect five for five in the process. While the race itself was pure entertainment, and I do think this was a nice field with potential, as far as seeing a legit 2014 Kentucky Derby contender, I am not one hundred percent sold just yet. Here are my views on the field and what to expect down the line…

SamraatThis NY-bred colt kept his perfect record intact, and in my opinion, must be taken seriously from here on out. I have been torn on how I feel about it him up until this point, and while I am not completely sold just yet, I will be watching him like a hawk starting now. In the Gotham, he went about four wide into the first turn and then settled into a pressing position while three wide down the back stretch. He was about two lengths off the pace setter, who set pretty average fractions the whole way, while in between horses for most of the back stretch. He made his move rounding the turn, raced three wide into the stretch, and wore down his two stubborn foes from the outside. He may not be flashy, but he keeps grinding out victories in these prep races. He must be respected and I can’t wait to see his next race to hopefully form a more solid opinion of him. He has my full attention now.

Uncle SighThis colt either has to either hope for a better draw outside of his rival Samraat, or he has to hit the road to get away from him altogether. In this race he was a little head strong into the first turn, where he was about three wide, then settled nicely into a perfect pressing position through average fractions the rest of the way. As they rounded the turn for home he seemed to be in trouble. Samraat was right on top of him to the outside, and the pace setter, In Trouble, still had some left and was fighting on gamely from his inside. He was in a tough spot between a pair of game horses the whole stretch and did well to fight on for second. I am kind of in the same boat I was with him after the Withers. I am not too high on him, but I’m not ready to completely rule him out either. I hope I learn more about him next time out. He will remain on the back burner for now.

In TroubleI thought this was a fine race considering it was his first start since September and his first time going two turns. It was a lot to ask, but I thought he ran well. He broke sharp from the rail and was a little rank into the first turn, but settled nicely after that while setting the pace from the inside through average fractions. Uncle Sigh hounded him the whole way around the track, and turning for home I knew In Trouble was in trouble. To his credit, he fought on gamely as Samraat and Uncle Sigh were bearing down on him through the entire stretch drive. Ultimately he came up a touch short while finishing third, but I think this was a fine 2014 bow and I think he has a right to improve off of it. I look forward to his next race, and if he does indeed improve, he may be a serious horse ready to peak come the first Saturday in May.

Financial MogulI was disappointed with this effort. I thought he was going to run better and I found no real excuse. He had a nice inside stalking trip, but when the real running began he never threatened. I was not impressed and I believe I will pass on him in the future.

HarpoonI was against him going into this as I thought he would get a wide trip. I must admit though, when two horses scratched out of this I thought his chances of getting a wide trip decreased, and his chances of winning increased. I was wrong on both accounts. He raced about four wide into the first turn, then sat a stalking trip about four wide his whole journey. He never looked like a winner and I was not impressed with his effort. I believe he would really have to improve to become a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender.

ExtrasexyhippzsterWas he outclassed in here? Or was his poor showing the result of a rough trip? That is a tough question to answer, but I am leaning towards giving him another shot. He was bumped by the winner at the start and never looked comfortable after that. He was last early as a result of his troubled start, then pulled himself up into a stalking position while rank on the backstretch, but ultimately ran out of gas for the stretch drive. Depending on where he runs back, and if the price is right, I think he deserves another shot. It will be interesting to see where his connections point him next out. We never had a chance to find out what he is really made of in the Gotham. If he drops in class I would definitely bet him. If he returns in another prep race I think he is worth a long look and may be worth. Down the line, I expect that most of this field will have one more prep before the Derby. For that, I am grateful because I am still really up in the air on quite a few of them from this race. I hope that their next start, at 1 1/8th miles, will provide the clarity I need and remove any doubts that I have about them moving forward. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of quite a few of them from this race and I think that this was a field with potential, but if we are looking for the Derby winner here, nothing I saw totally convinced me from the Gotham.

 

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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Gotham Takeaways...

Gelded ,first of all you do not know the full story with Vyjack.Yes better horses came in to town. But let me give you one very blaring issue. His trainer Rudy Rodriguez was suspended for 3 weeks prior to the Wood.Was not allowed on the grounds or any contact with the horse. It was for a medication that they now does not even warrant attention.It was like an Aspirin. My point and no disrespect to Rudys brother Gustavo who did a great job in his absence.Let me ask you a question and please answer it honestly.What if they took Tood,Shug,Baffert,Lukas or any other trainer away from their horse the 3 weeks leading up to the biggest race of their lives.The horse still only lost by a length to the #1 rated horse at that time.Surely,regardless if you like Rudy or not.H is at least worth 1 length in the training of the horse as opposed to the #1 assistant. If you don't,i suggest you contact Travelin Vic immediately .Ask him to enroll you in his fan club.
  • geldedridgling · Point taken, but my overall point is that most years there are decent horses that dominate or look good in the early preps but then when the races get longer and it’s “win or don’t go to the Derby” time, the better horses start to separate themselves from the pack. I could have used Itsmyluckyday last year as an example. He set track records early in the year but couldn’t match strides with Orb in the FL Derby. Some say it was the layoff. There will always be an excuse but frankly it’s simply that at shorter distances some horses look more brilliant but as the races get longer only a handful of courses can be competitive. · 196 days ago
Gelded, I know it's not the same division, but it was exactly your sort of reasoning that made Princess of Sylmar go off at almost 39-1 at the Kentucky Oaks. Don't underestimate a good closer's knack for finding the wire. Especially at CD. Also I would throw out most of the performances at last year Derby given the slop.
  • geldedridgling · I believe Princess of Sylmar went off at 39-1 because the public bit on Dreaming of Julia’s 1 good prep race at a speed favoring Gulfstream , ignoring her average to dull prior 2 races. Sylmar ran second to Closed Hatches after a 2 month layoff and the public forgot about her 3 prior very good races. · 196 days ago
I posted that CFC,i have always found the so called Home track advantage irrelevant. In todays times,where a track superintendant and their superiors have a say. You never get the same race track to run on from day to day,let alone week to week. Perfect example for the Fla. racing. The track on Holy Bull Day was considered even or tiring. Top Billing won impressively. The a month later he laid an egg over the same track. He ran awful. If there was a home field advantage,he would of improved on it. In last years Wood Memorial day of racing. The track was also souped up for speed that day. The only races that were won by closers ,were the ones that were hotly contested on the front end. So they all come in with the same advantage or disadvantage.Depending on your running style.The only differences are the traveling and the weather. But normally it is mild then.Last year it was cold on Wood Day.
Not realizing before, or ever considering, would be the fact that they're running the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, on the outer track. I read someone post about the differences between the inner track and the outer track. The preliminary races were run on the inner track. Advantage to the outside horses coming in, since there might not be a home court advantage, when no prep race was on the outer track?
Last year Vyjack, a horse with a questionable 10 furlong pedigree, won the 1st and 3rd legs of the NY derby prep circuit and going into the Wood most people didn’t know what to make of him, even though he was undefeated and looked the part. Then, in the Wood, the big boys came for their final prep and Vyjack didn’t look as impressive while Normandy Invasion looked as if he was just starting to roll at the wire. I think Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and In Trouble will face the same fate as Vyjack when the big boys, maybe Top Billing, Conquest Titan, or others come to New York for their final Derby prep.
As good as thieses horses looked visually. Please go back to the charts of the day and look at what type of track they were running on. In the first race,the winner was 3/5 and came oof the pace slightly to win.In the 4th race stake ,the winner at 4/5 saved all the ground and closed slightly to win. Every other race was run on the front end.Look at the prices these horse paid also. It was not horses under even money as it was at GP the weekend beforre.This truly was a monster speed track.What i got out of this race,was as many questions as i had going in ,if these are truly Derby Contenders.
In Trouble is the one I most like going forward, though I have to say that I too will be watching Samraat like a hawk from here on out.
Financial Mogul was up closer than usual looked primed for a big run into the turn, he was bottled up with no where to go. When the rail opened, he was flat. Probably needs to shorten up and

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