The $400,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) is expected to draw a full field to Aqueduct on Saturday March 3rd. The big purse, with $240,000 going to the first place finisher, should give the winner enough graded stakes earnings to lock up a spot in the Kentucky Derby field.
The Gotham changed to its current distance of a mile and a sixteenth in 2006, before that the race was run at a flat mile. Over the years six champions have won the Gotham: 1953 Native Dancer, 1962 Jaipur, 1967 Dr. Fager, 1973 Secretariat, 1989 Easy Goer, and in 1992 Lure won a dead heat finish.
The three greatest Gothams featured four of the greatest horses of all time. In 1967, Dr. Fager and Damascus met for the first of four times in their careers. These two champions would split wins in their meetings, but here Dr. Fager would prevail. The legendary Harvey Pack narrates the story of the 1967 Gotham with Dr. Fager v. Damascus.
Secretariat made his second start of the 1973 Triple Crown campaign in the Gotham. The Meadow Stable chestnut defeated a field of six horses setting a stake and track record for the mile in 1:33-2. View Secretariat's 1973 Gotham Stakes.
Five jockeys have won the Gotham three times and they are an elite group of riders: Angel Cordero, Richard Migliore, Mike Smith, Jacinto Vasquez, and Jorge Velasquez. Shug McGaughey leads the trainers with three wins.
Heading the field for this year’s Gotham is the two year-old champion of 2011, Hansen. The near white Pulpit colt enters the race off of his second place finish behind Algorithms in the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream on Jan 29th. Owner Dr. Kendall Hansen’s request to run the horse with his tail and mane dyed blue was denied by the NYRA stewards.
The rest of the field is likely to include Consortium, who has run behind Algorithms in his last two starts. This Darley colt had a troubled trip on the sloppy track in the Holy Bull and before that got caught at the finish after being on the lead. Dan and Sheila, trained by Todd Pletcher, made a big move from last to fourth in the LeComte (G3) finishing just three lengths off of the winner. Done Talking returns to the races after making a bold move in the 2011 Remsen (G2). He rallied from last to a length defeat, in which he was a head behind the recent Risen Star (G2) winner El Padrino. Dutrow trainee King and Crusader is undefeated on the Aqueduct inner track including the Jan. 16th Jimmy Winkfield Stake. The New Jersey stable of George and Lori Hall will send out My Adonis after a rough trip and a third place finish in the Holy Bull. Tiger Walk finished third in the Withers (G3) behind Alpha on Feb. 4th.
The other probable runners that are likely to go off at higher odds include Chief Energy, who is making his first start since having three summer races at Monmouth Park. Cop A Tude makes his stakes debut for Graham Motion after a pair of victories at Laurel Park. Maan came off a seven-month layoff to score a hard-fought optional claiming victory at Gulfstream on Feb. 9th. Pretension won the Sweet Envoy New York-bred stakes last time out. Raconteur has won his last two races over the Aqueduct inner track and is yet another Pletcher trainee. Stealcase comes into the race off a Jan. 19th maiden score at Gulfstream.