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Summer At The Spa

The Gotham: First Look

Two inches of snow this past Monday notwithstanding, there are several signs around Aqueduct that spring, at long last, is on the horizon. Starting Wednesday, post times will return to the traditional 1 p.m. slot. Opening day at Belmont is two months away. And eight days from now, an expected field of six-to-nine sophomore colts and geldings will line up in the Aqueduct starting gate for the $250,000 Gotham Stakes (G3).
While none of the three aforementioned Gotham nominees figure to run, a few
prominent horses are expected to make the Gotham. Here now is a rundown of the nine horses considered possible for next Saturday’s race, listed in order of their ranking on Horse Racing Nation’s 2011 Kentucky Derby Candidates
Current HR Nation Rank: 13
Toby’s Corner won the prep for the prep, taking the Whirlaway by two lengths back on February 5th. Trained by Graham Motion, this son of Bellamy Road sports a 3-for-4 lifetime record. The Gotham, however, will be Toby’s Corner’s first start in a graded stake. Given that the threshold for graded earnings to qualify for the Derby has edged towards $250,000 in recent years, Toby’s Corner could certainly use the winner’s share of the Gotham purse.
Toby’s Corner is looking to, like his sire, capture the Wood Memorial. First things first, though, as he figures to face a stiff test next Saturday. Motion chose to work Toby’s Corner only once in between starts. He breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40 at the Fair Hill Training center on Friday.
Current HR Nation Rank: 20
Owner Mike Repole and Trainer Todd Pletcher are, as previously mentioned, saving their big gun, Uncle Mo, for next month’s Wood Memorial. But they will be represented in here by this dark bay son of Bernardini. Stay Thirsty will be making his first start of 2011, after a very tough four-race campaign in 2010. He won only once, but he knocked heads with some top-class horses, including; Boys At Tosconova, Sovereign Default, Rogue Romance, and, most notably, stablemate Uncle Mo.
Stay Thirsty has been working well for his return to the races. He has worked consistently the last four Sundays at Palm Meadows, most recently having worked five furlongs in 1:00.60. Ramon Dominguez will ride Stay Thirsty for the first time in the Gotham, taking over for Javier Castellano, who had the mount in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.


Current HR Nation Rank: 28
The connections of a superhorse like Uncle Mo have the luxury of waiting until March 12th to begin a Derby campaign. The connections of a horse like Monzon have no such luxury. Monzon, if he runs in the Gotham (Monzon is not yet confirmed for the Gotham, but he is possible, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes), would be making his third start of the season.
But if Ignacio Correas -- who trains Monzon for Sagamore Farm -- wants to make the Derby with this son of Thunder Gulch, he might have little choice but to run him. This is because Monzon, like Toby’s Corner, also lacks graded earnings. Unlike Toby’s Corner, however, Monzon has already had a chance to earn some graded money. He finished a tepid fifth, though, in the Sam F. Davis, beaten 7¾ lengths.
Monzon’s win over the track, a one length score in the Count Fleet on New Year’s Day, may ultimately serve as sufficient encouragement for Correas to enter him in the Gotham.


Current HR Nation Rank: 66

Also making his third start of the 2011 campaign, this Gary Contessa trainee will hope to turn the tables on Toby’s Corner, who bested him in the Whirlaway by 5¾ lengths. A son of Pulpit, Preachintothedevil stalked a moderate pace that day, but never really kicked on, running evenly to collect third money. Contessa is hoping to catch a fast track in the Gotham, unlike the muddy track Preachintothedevil struggled over in the Whirlaway.


Current HR Nation Rank: 183

Another Whirlaway starter, much more was expected from this Rick Violette trainee that day. Rescindthetrade finished last of five, beaten 10 ¾ lengths. Undaunted, Violette is pressing on with his charge, a son of Put it Back. He was 2-for-2 prior to the Whirlaway, so, like Contessa, Violette is hoping for a fast inner track next Saturday.


Currently unranked in the HR Nation 250
This son of Awesome Again has proven to be an astute claim for Steve Asmussen, who claimed him for $50,000 last December. In his first start for Asmussen, Dawly captured a starter allowance in professional fashion. Asmussen is now toying with the idea of stretching Dawly out to the Gotham distance of a mile and a sixteenth. Like Monzon, Dawly is a maybe, according to Andrew Byrnes.
Currently unranked in the HR Nation 250
Though it took him five tries to break his maiden, Nacho Saint has kept some pretty classy company. He hasn’t been disgraced in his two prior starts in graded company, posting a second in last summer’s Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, and a fifth beaten six lengths in the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth. Trainer Kelly Breen is looking for more from this son of Yes It’s True, though, as he prepares him for another start over a track where he broke his maiden by 4¼ lengths last month.


Currently unranked in the HR Nation 250
This son of Real Quiet was a gate scratch in the Whirlaway, as he acted up prior to the start. Trainer Christopher Grove is going to give it another go in here, as Norman Asbjornson looks to extend his winning streak to three. This Parx shipper has yet to be tested for class, most recently winning a soft nw1 allowance race.


Currently unranked in the HR Nation 250
Starship Caesar is another considered possible for next Saturday. He captured a starter allowance at Gulfstream last out, but is another who would be going two turns for the first time. He’ll need a new pilot, as the injured Eibar Coa is the only jockey to have ridden him to date.


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Older Comments about The Gotham: First Look...

You can add Crossbow to this list as he was scratched from the Hutcheson today, Joe. Do you know the latest on The Fed Eased?
I'm very interested to see Stay Thirsty back again...I liked him a lot last year. I think he could very well end up being a good horse.

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 Meet Joe DePaolo

My love of horse racing dates back to the 1999 Belmont Stakes, where I was fortunate enough to witness Chris Antley's heroics in saving the life of Charismatic from just yards away. Since then, my passion for the sport has only grown, to the point where it fueled my desire to be involved on a professional basis.
A product of Queens College and the world-renowned Bronx High School of Science, I've spent the past few years producing news talk radio on the national level. Most notably, I have worked with; Ron Reagan, Arianna Huffington, and Thom Hartmann.
In 2010, I teamed with heralded freelance writer Claire Novak to host the popular "Youbet: On Track" podcast. Together, Claire and I chronicled the Saratoga 2010 meeting daily, covering everything from Blame's thrilling conquest of the Whitney, to Rachel Alexandra's stunning defeat in the Personal Ensign. Our weekly "Backside Buzz" segment, in particular, earned great acclaim from many in the racing community.
I currently live in Bayside, New York. Contact me at if you have any comments or questions.

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