After the Liam’s Map colt worked an easy five furlongs Thursday in 1:02.20 at Fair Grounds, Ryne Poncik, son-in-law of Jackpot Farm head Terry Green, said a plane to New York is booked in case connections select the March 7 Gotham Stakes (G3) for Basin.
“It’s a lot easier to take them off the flight than put them on at the last minute,” Poncik said.
Measuring a one-turn mile at Aqueduct, the Gotham would mark a shift in course from Oaklawn Park’s March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2) going 1 1/16 miles around two turns. Both events serve as penultimate Kentucky Derby preps, allotting qualifying points to their top-four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Trainer Steve Asmussen could also hold off entering Basin altogether.
“It’s either Gotham, Rebel or nothing. There’s three options right now,” Poncik said. “…It’s Steve’s show. We’ll sit back and watch, and he’ll tell us where we’re going.”
Basin, who won two of three starts at age 2, missed the chance to race after the Sept. 2 Hopeful due to a right-hind leg injury that required time off, but no surgery. He returned to the work tab Jan. 15 and has breezed once a week since then.
The last four works were all recorded at five furlongs, including Thursday’s solo move.
“We’re dodging weather down there,” Poncik said. “He worked back in six days this week. The rain moved in as we were working this morning. They sent me the video — looked like a good track.”
A $150,000 yearling purchase, Basin was defeated on debut going 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga by the next-out stakes winner By Your Side. The colt topped Three Technique, another future Derby trail runner, second out before leading an Asmussen-trained trifecta across the wire in the seven-furlong Hopeful.
With Basin out of a Johannesburg mare, connections are anticipating he’ll go longer distances as well. Where that happens, well, they’re waiting on word from the Hall of Famer.
“It’s a day-by-day deal for Steve right now,” Poncik said. “His mentality is, we know we have a good horse. Let’s not ruin him. If he tells us he’s ready, he’s ready.”
Basin has been bet down to 20-1 on William Hill U.S.' Derby board. He closed at 30-1 earlier this month in Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' pari-mutuel Kentucky Derby Future Wager.