Gotham brings Derby hopefuls to Aqueduct
By NY Hot List Staff
It’s the first Saturday in March and the New York racing scene will be dominated by thoughts of the first Saturday in May.
Aqueduct will once again be the scene of a Kentucky Derby prep Saturday with the running of the $300,000 Gotham Stakes, a race that should land the winner a spot in the starting gate for the May 2 first leg of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs.
The Gotham will award 50 qualifying points toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby to the Gotham winner, which has traditionally been enough to secure a spot in the opening leg of the Triple Crown.
The caveat, though, is that the Gotham is a one-turn mile race and racing 1 ¼ miles two months from now may not be suitable for some of Saturday’s starters.
Nevertheless, a field of 11 will be on hand at the Big A, with a couple of standouts included.
Leading the way is Mischevious Alex, a runaway winner of the Grade 3 seven-furlong Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park in which he beat two of Saturday’s entrants.
Off that effort in the Swale, traveling an additional furlong should not be a problem for the John Servis-trained colt.
“He’s a good horse and has a great mind on him,” Servis said. “He’ll do whatever you want him to do. “I’ll reiterate that to (jockey Kendrick Carmouche) and let him know he’s pretty push button and to ride him accordingly.”
A main threat should be Untitled, who was fourth in the Swale after being bumped at the start of the race. He bounced back with a good second in an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs after that, and an 11-length win in his debut illustrates the talent he possesses.
“He’s been training really well,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He’s a beautiful horse. He’s a big, long, good-moving horse. The problem he has sometimes is he breaks a bit slow. I always wanted to run him long and I figure the longer I run him, the less important the start is. But he broke pretty good the last time.”
This is the time of year when a 3-year-old can step up and make a name for himself and several in the field fit that description.
Attachment Rate is coming off a decisive maiden win at Gulfstream Park that paints him as a major force here, even while climbing into stakes company.
Sixto won his debut at Aqueduct in his lone start, but showed enough in that six-furlong test that he should not be discounted.
“He’s a late foal and I think once he develops more, he’ll be a nice two-turn horse but for now, the one-turn mile should suit him,” trainer Eric Guillot said.
Montauk Traffic comes into the Gotham off a stakes win at Aqueduct, taking the seven-furlong Jimmy Wakefield in his last start for trainer Linda Rice.
“We like to think the added distance will only help him,” Rice said. “We believe the further the better for him.”
The rest of the field includes Celtic Striker, Informative, War Stopper, Necker Island, Flap Jack and First Deputy.
The Gotham is one of four stakes on Saturday’s card at Aqueduct, joining the Busher Invitational for 3-year-old fillies, the Tom Fool Handicap and Stymie Stakes.