Horse-by-Horse Analysis of Saturday's Gotham Stakes (G3) @AQU

Chad Brown has a strong training hand, as he competes once again in the Grade III Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday. See who J.N. Campbell thinks is the early pick for this one...
Chad Brown has a strong training hand, as he competes once again in the Grade III Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday. See who J.N. Campbell thinks is the early pick for this one...

1 Mile (Dirt), Gotham Stakes, Purse $300k, 3

This Saturday, Aqueduct Racetrack will once again host a staple along the Derby Trail, the Grade III Gotham Stakes. On the line are 50-20-10-5, which will go to the top 4 finishers. In past years, this race has sported some solid competition, even if it has not done much in the way of starters for America’s most-celebrated race. Recently, trainers like Chad Brown, Dale Romans, Kiaran McLaughlin, and John Servis have collected the prize money on behalf of the connections that they represent. This year’s race is shaping up to be a doozy, with a group that will be vying for victory.

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Atlantic Road (Jky: J. Vargas/Trn: T. Pletcher):

Trainer Todd Pletcher is hoping the rail is lucky on what promises to be another cold day @AQU. His colt by Quality Road ran well last out on the MT in an MSW80k affair. He led all the way at a very short price. These waters are going to be much tougher, but at least it is not a 2-turn configuration. Jorge Vargas has never ridden him, so it is unknown on several fronts just how this inexperienced colt will do. Tough spot for Starlight Racing, but if anybody can spring an upset it is these connections.

Grade: C+


#2 The Reds (Jky: P. Morales/Trn: J. Kimmel):

John Kimmel has done all he can getting this Tonalist colt ready for action. He has put him into 4 consecutive AQU MSW80k contests, but it was the last one that yielded a win. Saving the best for last eh? It was a nice ride by Kendrick Carmouche. Pablo Morales takes the reigns now. Whether that is a good move or not remains to be seen, but that is a stepdown when it comes to jock talent. The real question is… do we have a deep router here, or an entry that likes a long sprint. Tough to tell…

Grade: C+


#3 Highly Motivated (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: C. Brown):

It’s time everyone… The moment has arrived for this Klaravich colt to head out onto the track again. The last time we saw this son of Into Mischief, he was powering down the lane at Keeneland for the win in the Nyquist Stakes 125k. It was a strong showing that day, and trainer Chad Brown has waited patiently for this day to come. It Is great to see Javier Castellano back in the saddle after his surgery. If this colt is sharp, not one of these runners is going to be able to best him. But is he? Sharp, that is… I am thinking so. Down at Payson, on that deep training surface, his fitness has shown through. This could give Brown at least 1 Derby starter. Stay tuned…

Grade: A-


#4 Wipe the Slate (Jky: K. Carmouche/Trn: D. O’Neill):

Doug O’Neill has done his share of shipping, especially into difficult conditions. He is hoping that his Nyquist colt can turn everything around after a dismal showing in the Bob Lewis (G3) last out at Santa Anita. It was all Medina Spirit and Roman Centurian that day, so both trainer and horse have much to attend to. The positive move is that Reddam Racing and O’Neill convinced Kendrick Carmouche to ride. That is a coup of epic proportions because I am sure Carmouche had his pick. It is time to wipe the slate… err… well… you know.

Grade: B-


#5 Crowded Trade (Jky: E. Cancel/Trn: C. Brown):

Chad Brown’s other entry is a nice colt by More Than Ready. Based on that sire’s name you would think he is, but with only just breaking his maiden back in late January, it is tough to tell if he truly is fit enough. This is a major step up in class from that MSW80k race. However, the speed fig is what most will point to in the “promise” column. Nothing like raw talent this time of year, and the hot Eric Cancel has the mount, so it should be pretty interesting to see what this colt can do. Special runner, who is also from the Klaravich vault.

Grade: B


#6 Capo Kane (Jky: D. Davis/Trn: H. Wyner):

Here is the classiest of the class in this race, who has run in both the Jerome 150k and Withers (G3) @AQU. That is impressive considering how diverse the distances were, even though the field sizes were lacking in numbers. Harold Wyner’s son of Street Sense was 1 of 2 in them, which was pretty impressive. I am always agog at how these horses adapt to frosty conditions like these. If there is anyone in this race that can game with the 2 Chad Brown entries, then this colt is your pick. But he seemed to take a step back in the Withers (G3), so wager with caution if you put him on top.

Grade: B


#7 Freedom Fighter (Jky: M. Franco/Trn: B. Baffert):

HOF trainer Bob Baffert comes due east in an effort to parry his risk, and make sure members of his stable get a fair shot at some Derby Points. I am not convinced after watching all of this son of Violence’s races that he wants to go longer than 1 mile. He could… Baffert knows his limits, but maybe he wants to try just to see what will happen. There is no doubt that with Manny Franco riding, he has a legitimate shot to score in this spot. Of late, his works look stellar, and Baffert would not send him all the way across the country just to run 2nd. He might end up being more than a square price, what with the Browns rolling up the tote board. Interesting prop bet here, if you are able…

Grade: B+


#8 Weyburn (Jky: T. McCarthy/Trn: J. Jerkens):

The Jerkens Barn is quietly entering this colt by Pioneerof the Nile, and he will not get near the fanfare that others will. Jerkens is just fine with that, as he thinks this colt could be near or on the lead. That translates to making him very dangerous, if the pace maintains itself evenly. It looks to me that in each of his 3 races, he is at his best when he is rating just off the front. His workouts over at Belmont continue to be good, especially since he has not hit the track since early December. Might be a sleeper at a nice price with Trevor McCarthy aboard.

Grade: B-


Join us Saturday for all of our selections! Should be a great set of races from Aqueduct!

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