Not since Batman was playing tourist somewhere out of town, have so many lined up to claim Gotham. No green haired villains in this bunch though, as the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct has instead attracted a motley crew of 13 Kentucky Derby contenders hoping to move one step closer to Churchill Downs. Fittingly for the place where Batman battles to keep the streets free of evil-doers, the Gotham figures to be a dark and gloomy setting tomorrow for the traditional Derby prep. With rain forecast through the night and into the afternoon at Aqueduct, the condition of the racing surface may play an important part of the story. A sloppy track would be the second consecutive one encountered by the 2011 two-year-old kingpin, Hansen. The same could be said for the horse that appears to be the most likely to knock the heavy favorite off his Gotham perch, My Adonis.
When last seen, Hansen and My Adonis knocked heads in Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull Stakes. Truth be told, the pair only knocked heads at the very beginning, and the very end of the grade 3 affair. Breaking together from the middle of the starting gate, Hansen broke poorly, and My Adonis broke worse. While Hansen quickly rushed up to grab his normal position in the front, My Adonis was left to languish at the back of the back. Being well off the early lead was a new experience for the son of Pleasantly Perfect, and one that he actually handled pretty well. As Algorithms powered by a tiring Hansen, it was My Adonis who you could see circling the field and finishing large down the middle of the track. At the finish, My Adonis was only a stride or two short of getting past the speedy hero.
In the Gotham, the Kelly Breen trained runner will have an extra sixteenth of a mile to try to run down Hansen, and as a son of the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, any extra distance should be well appreciated. The post positions this time will keep the pair separated as Hansen drew the 12-hole, while My Adonis will break from the rail under rider Elvis Trujillo, which could provide an interesting challenge for each colt. Whether by accident or not, it would seem the winner of October’s Jean Lafitte Stakes learned a new running style in the Holy Bull, and one that may suit him well as the distances of the spring increase. While Hansen figures to be a part of the pace scenario, along with the speedy, King and Crusader, My Adonis should be able to relax early in hopes of picking up the pieces.
We don’t have to think back long to remember seeing the familiar pink and orange silks of George and Lori Hall winning a big race on a messy New York strip, see Ruler On Ice’s Belmont, and unlike most in tomorrow’s field, My Adonis has already proven that he takes to water like a penguin. Besides the Holy Bull, he broke his maiden impressively over a muddy Monmouth track, and judging by the near 20 lengths he made up on Hansen last time, it would appear he fits with the heavy favorite. Sure Hansen has room for improvement off his seasonal debut, but so does My Adonis, my pick to take Gotham. Call it a pick for the villain, but hey Batman, err Hansen, cannot win every time.