As part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, The lure of $240,000 and 50 Derby points to the winner drew a full field of 12 runners at Aqueduct on Saturday for a sturdy 3-year old test in the G3 Gotham Stakes in the Big Apple. Let's take a look at the field from the rail out.
Grade 3 $400,000 Gotham Stakes 1 1/6-Miles
Coupled Entries – Transparent, Now and Then
PP Horse Jockey/Trainer
1. Champion Boy/ Castro/Guerrero--Colt is still a maiden with just two starts. One of those runs came exactly a month ago when he contested the G3 Withers here, finishing fifth.
2. Escapefromreality/Cohen/Schettino--Has never been off the board in his three lifetime starts, all recorded over track. Scored nicely in his debut and hasn't been far from the winner's circle by more than a neck in his two second-place finishes. The latter race was a very game runner-up showing to the top 3-year old prospect, Revolutionary, in the G3 Withers. His Big A inner track experience coupled with his good closing abilities, makes him an strong contender.
3. Ore Pass/Pimental/Trombetta--Shipper has 2 wins from 3 starts. Tallied in a minor stakes at Laurel Park last outing. Was also a debut winner at that same venue back in November. In between wins, is a 5th-place finish in allowance company at Parx.
4. Amerigo Vespucci/Rodriguez/Tullock--Brings graded and track experience with a 3rd in the G2 Jerome and a close-up 4th in the G3 Withers. Won his first two starts, then recorded a pair of second-place finishes in minor stakes, all at Laurel Park. Seems to always find a way into the exotics mix, so despite the tough competition he faces, you may want to find a spot for this colt in your super.
5. Transparent/ Ortiz/McLaughlin--Finally broke through into the win column last race in his try six maiden try. That victory may have been forthcoming, when two starts back in December, he was a distant second to Revolutionary. Also has a second, as well as a third to go along with his solo win.
6. Now And Then/Alvarado/McLaughlin--Has just one career start for McLaughlin - a maiden win on this track back in January.
7. Siete de Oros/Arroyo/Preciado--His debut back in September was the only time this horse was out-of-the-money. Since then, he has placed in his last five starts and owns a pair of board placings over this track, with a 2nd in the Jerome Stakes where he just missed winning at 41-1 odds, then 3rd in the G3 Withers last months, 2 lengths back after leading into the stretch. Will probably display early speed again, so he's a must use in exotics.
8. Vyjack/Rosario/Rodriguez--A horse-for-the course. 3 for 3, all on this track. Connections were going to wait until the G1 Wood Memorial in April, but that would have been an awfully long layoff from his last outing back in the first week of January. In that last outing, he battled throughout and got the head bob at the wire. Interesting to see if he can he keep the winning streak going.
9. Elnaawi/Hill/McLaughlin--Yet another McLaughlin trainee. Takes a huge class leap in this spot and get administered Lasix. Has two lifetime starts with a wire-to-wire win by four last out, preceded by a third in his debut, both over this surface and both in the off-going. It's anybody's guess how he'll perform over a fast Aqueduct oval. He could be your pace setter or sit right off the lead.
10. Sky Captain/Mena/Casse--Ships up from Florida to race in stakes company for the first time. Has one win and a one second-place finish in four career races. His win came in his second maiden race at Churchill last summer, romping by over 10 lengths. Was then put away and not seen again until December at Gulfstream where he returned with a sixth-place finish in Allowance Optional Claimer. Last time out at that very same class level, he finished second. Gives away alot of local experience to several runners in this group.
11. West Hill Giant/Espinoza/Terranova--Reeled off two straight wins back in September, with a maiden score at Saratoga in his second career start, followed by a nice win in the state-bred Breeders' Futurity at Finger Lakes. Caught a yielding turf course at Belmont two back which resulted in a disappointing seventh in his graded stakes debut - the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes. Most recently, in his first start as a 3-year old, he placed third in the minor Java Gold Stakes here last month. It should be noted that he goes out for a barn that is winless at the current meet.
12. Overanalyze/Velazquez/Pletcher--Returns to the track and actually cuts back in distance for his initial run of 2013 after his juvenile season ended with an impressive victory in the G2 Remsen Stakes here last November. In that 9 furlong affair, this exciting KY Derby prospect won by a nose in a thrilling three-way finish. Following his maiden winning debut at Saratoga last summer, he has competed exclusively in graded company where he has become a multiple G2 winner. Owns the top speed figure and has plenty of graded stakes experience, but those advantages could be nullified with the outside post draw in this very large field.
Analysis: With Johnny V aboard, Overanalyze will be given every chance to take this steppingstone, but despite the speed and class edges he holds over the others, this first outing is no gimmee. The fact that there hasn't been a single winner beyond post 9 in routes over one-mile and the severe speed bias playing on the inner track makes it hard to back the Pletcher entrant. I'll look to the Shadwell runner, Elnaawi. He could go for the lead and play catch me if you can and the way the track is playing, that might prove to be a daunting task, or he might sit an ideal trip here just off the leaders. There is plenty of speed signed on to set up a kick and if he can rate just a bit, he gets the jump on any off-pace runners. It's his stakes debut, but the way he graduated suggests he will be able to move forward. Vyjack loves the course and can't be dismissed. The colt may need the start after an eight week layoff, but trainer Rodriguez is having a fantastic winter meet winning at an amazing 30% clip. Rosario aboard strengthens the case..Escapefromreality was only beaten a neck by Revolutionary in the Grade 3 Withers, and that win catapulted Revolutionary right to the top of many Derby lists. The Withers marked the first race at two turns for this young colt and he certainly appears poised to move forward
-Toss in both Escapefromreality and/Amerigo Vespucci for superfectas. Good luck and as always, enjoy the race!