Kentucky Derby prep: Gotham Stakes 2023 odds and analysis

Kentucky Derby prep: Gotham Stakes 2023 odds and analysis
Photo: Jon Putman / Eclipse Sportswire

The Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham Stakes, which will be run Saturday, is the fifth of six official prep races at Aqueduct on the road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby. The one-turn mile drew a full field of 14 3-year-olds and one also-eligible who will compete for the 50-20-15-10-5 points that go to the top five eligible finishers.

The Gotham field is an interesting Derby prep race that includes six horses who are undefeated and have won a total of 12 races. Two of the colts were recently moved from the Bob Baffert barn and thus became eligible to earn Derby qualifying points.

Here is a full-field analysis for the Gotham, which is scheduled as race 9 of 10 with post time set for 4:56 p.m. EST. Each horse is shown with morning-line odds from the Horse Racing Nation staff, his sire, trainer, jockey, record and purse earnings.

1. Clear the Air (30-1, Ransom the Moon, William Walden, Jack Gilligan, 3: 1-0-0, $46,610) Clear the Air ships from Turfway Park, where he broke his maiden in January and then stretched out to a mile in an allowance and finished fourth after a difficult trip. Toss.

2. Howgreatisnate (10-1, Speightster, Andrew Simoff, J.D. Acosta, 4: 4-0-0, $162,900) Howgreatisnate has a perfect record after four starts. His first three wins were at Delaware Park in sprints after stalking trips. His fourth victory was in December when he won the Future Stars Stakes at Parx Racing as the 3-2 second choice. Howgreatisnate has been working steadily at Fair Hills Training Center for his Derby trail debut. Win contender.

3. Mr. Swagger (20-1, Maclean’s Music, Juan Carlos Avila, Carlos Olivero, 1: 0-0-0, $84,600) Mr. Swagger shipped to Aqueduct to break his maiden at odds of 7-2, pressing the pace and getting up to win by less than a length. He will return from Parx again for the Gotham. Debut winner.

4. Uncorrelated (8-1, Arrogate, Chad Brown, Manny Franco, 1: 1-0-0, $44,000) Uncorrelated broke his maiden at first asking at Aqueduct for Chad Brown and Klaravich Stables with a stalking trip as the 2-1 favorite going six furlongs on a sloppy track against a six-horse field. Debut winner.

5. Carmel Road (6-1, Quality Road, Tim Yakteen, Eric Cancel, 4: 1-1-1, $105,100) Carmel Road was transferred from Baffert to Tim Yakteen and is now eligible for the Run for the Roses. He was last seen running second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) after setting the pace and had to forfeit four Derby qualifying points. He broke his maiden at Del Mar during the summer in his second start by almost nine lengths. In the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) he was distanced after he did not get to the front from the 14 post. In preparation for the Gotham, Carmel Road had a series of fast and long workouts under the care of Baffert. Win contender.

6. General Banker (30-1, Central Banker, James Ferraro, Frankie Pennington, 10: 1-3-2, $393,600) General Banker will make the 11th start of his career. The New York-bred made his first eight starts against state-breds, breaking his maiden in his eighth start in a New York Stallion Series stakes race that was loaded with maidens. He moved to open company on the Kentucky Derby trail with a pair of third-place finishes in the Jerome and the Withers (G3) with closing moves. Toss.

7. Transect (20-1, Gun Runner, Paulo Lobo, Joe Talamo, 2: 2-0-0, $86,400) Transect won both of his starts on the artificial surface at Turfway Park this year. His maiden breaker came from off the pace, and his allowance win was on the lead. The son of Gun Runner and an A.P. Indy mare should handle the added distance as he moves up from 6 1/2 furlongs. Use underneath.

8. Fort Warren (8-1, Curlin, Brittany Russell, Jevian Toldeo, 2: 1-0-1, $60,600) Fort Warren moves from Bob Baffert to Maryland-based trainer Brittany Russell. The son of Curlin was a favored debut winner at Santa Anita in October with a front-end effort in a sprint. In January he was third in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) after racing greenly when he was fourth in the early going. His bloodlines indicate that Fort Warren should be able to handle the additional distance. Win contender.

9. Clubhouse (15-1, Speightstown, Todd Pletcher, Kendrick Carmouche, 7: 1-1-3, $103,175) Clubhouse was slow to develop beginning his career on the turf for Todd Pletcher, switching to the dirt at Aqueduct in his fourth start and eventually breaking his maiden in his sixth race by more than six lengths going seven furlongs. He came right back to finish second in the Jimmy Winkfield last month. The one-turn mile in the Gotham is the logical next step for Clubhouse. Use underneath.

10. Lugan Knight (5-1, Goldencents, Michael McCarthy, Dylan Davis, 4: 2-1-1, $175,775) Lugan Knight once again will ship from Kentucky for Michael McCarthy, as he did in January when he won the Jerome going the one-turn mile and earning 10 Derby points. He finished in the top three in all four of his starts, which include his maiden victory at Keeneland and an allowance at Churchill Downs behind Victory Formation. Lugan Knight has a victory on the lead and one stalking the pace. Win contender.

11. Slip Mahoney (10-1, Arrogate, Brad Cox, Trevor McCarthy, 3: 1-1-0, $66,100) Slip Mahoney broke his maiden in his third start for Brad Cox. All three races were at Aqueduct and were against strong fields. In his maiden win going a mile he was the odds-on favorite, defeating Crupi who just ran in the Risen Star (G2). Coming from the Cox barn, he cannot be ignored. Win contender.

12. Raise Cain (20-1, Violence, Ben Colebrook, Jose Lezcano, 5: 1-1-1, $103,578) Raise Cain ships from Kentucky, where he made four of his five starts. He broke his maiden at Keeneland in October by five lengths going seven furlongs. Trainer Ben Colebrook moved him to stakes company where he was third in the Bowman Mill Stake and second in the Gun Runner at Fair Grounds. His last start was on the Tapeta at Turfway Park, where he finished fifth in a stakes race. Toss.

13. Eyeing Clover (4-1, Lookin At Lucky, Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 2: 2-0-0, $84,600) Eyeing Clover is one of the contenders who is undefeated. He broke his maiden at Oaklawn Park in December and then won another sprint at Fair Grounds by almost 10 lengths with a front-end effort. Trainer Brad Cox already won six prep races with five horses on the road to 2023 Derby, so all of his horses have to be considered as having a chance to continue the Cox dominance. Win contender.

14. Recruiter (10-1, Army Mule, Cathal Lynch, Angel Cruz, 4: 4-0-0, $170,100) Recruiter won all four of his starts as another horse who prefers to be part of the early pace. He progressed smoothly from his debut win at Monmouth Park in August to an allowance and then the J.F. Lewis Stakes at Laurel Park. In January, he won the Parx Juvenile. Recruiter was well-respected from the beginning, having been a heavy favorite in all four starts. Like several others in this field, Recruiter will have to stretch out to the mile distance. Win contender.

15, AE. Radio Red (30-1, The Big Beast, Danny Gargan, Jose Gomez, 3: 1-0-0, $43,580)

Summary: The increase in qualifying points to 50-20-15-10-5 has brought dramatic growth in the field size in the three top Derby prep races this weekend, and the Gotham leads the way with an overflow field of 15 3-year-olds taking a shot to get into the Run for the roses.

The post position was significant as a few of the serious contenders drew to the far outside of this one-turn mile. Undefeated in four starts, Recruiter has early speed and will have to use it to try to get a decent spot in the field leaving the gate. Slip Mahoney and Eyeing Clover from the Brad Cox barn also drew far outside spots in the starting gate. Lugan Knight, who won the Jerome, will have to work out a trip from the 10 post.

Carmel Road and Fort Warren drew better post positions for their first starts since leaving the Baffert barn, and that makes both of them serious win contenders. The top choice will be Carmel Road.

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