Gotham Stakes 2022 Entries: Baffert ships in Rockefeller to the Big Apple

HOF-er Bob Baffert continues to claw and scratch for his life and legacy ... in the meantime, he is still shipping. The Gotham is Saturday, and he brings in Rockefeller. See what his chances look like against this well-matched field.
HOF-er Bob Baffert continues to claw and scratch for his life and legacy ... in the meantime, he is still shipping. The Gotham is Saturday, and he brings in Rockefeller. See what his chances look like against this well-matched field.
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Race 10: 1 Mile (Dirt), Gotham Stakes, Purse $300k, 3 (Saturday)

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. Last year, it was Jimmy Jerkens’ Weyburn who rallied home at a massive price … giving the conditioner his very 1st Gotham score. His father, the great Allen Jerkens, won the race all the way back in 1992 with Devil His Due. What a father-son duo … This year’s race is shaping up to be another doozy of a duel, with a solid group that will be vying for victory.

Now, let’s find out about this field…

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#1 Runninsonofagun (Jky: J. Samuel/Trn: J. Toscano):

The Toscano Barn is looking for some magic in this Grade 2 event. It is hard to see this gelding by Gun Runner make it to the wire first. But in his defense, he did step into an OC50k event in fine style at Aqueduct at the end of January. Maybe young Jalon Samuel can find a way to win? He has yet to ride this one in competition. The stretch out from 6F to a mile doesn’t seem to be an issue, especially considering this sire's proclivity for furlongs. Still, he is sure to be box car-priced, when post time comes around …

Grade: C

 

#2 Glider (Jky: A. Gallardo/Trn: M. Casse):

Here is a pricey son of Quality Road that brought a pretty penny at the Keeneland September Sale back in 2020. The colt sold for $200k, and DJ Stable is expecting some results! Luckily, they hired a HOF trainer in Mark Casse, who has amazing experience on the Derby Trail. He sends this colt to Gotham City after running him at Gulfstream (2x), and then, on a class hike at Tampa. He was just behind Todd Pletcher’s Emmanuel in that OC75n1x, and that is a runner who will ably test the waters in the FOY @GP on Saturday. Hiring Antonio Gallardo to come north from Florida is an interesting move. He is coming into a hostile work environment, but he has the ability to take on challenges. A chance to hit-the-board, for sure.

Grade: B-

 

#3 Golden Code (Jky: K. Carmouche/Trn: T. Pletcher):

The Calumet-owned colt by Honor Code was pretty spectacular back at Aqueduct in early February. In a state bred race at the MSW70k level, he won by a whopping 10-lengths against 7 others. I am not sure that was what you would call a tough field, so it is difficult to see him even coming close to replicating that in this G2. Pletcher knows a thing or two about spotting his charges. He does go with Kendrick Carmouche again, and this is a big game rider with experience. His early speed is a definite weapon, and makes him dangerous, for sure. However, the pair of races that he entered were not even close to what he is about to face here. Tough to see this one measuring up, even with a HOF conditioner in his corner.

Grade: C+

 

#4 Fromanothamutha (Jky: D. Davis/Trn: R. Handal):

Ray Handal’s AQU Meet in ’22 is going well, but he is looking to score a major “G Stakes” win that would let us all know that he is ready to move into the upper echelons of superior trainers. This colt by Unified is an alum of the Grade 2 Remsen S. back in December. The stretch out to 1 1/8th was not a success, and he ended up 7th, out of 8 runners. In his defense, he did drop down to MSW Co., and score a nice victory going 7F at “The Big A.” That was a tidy speed fig that he posted, and maybe Handal is seeing his charge peak at just the right time. I like the rider switch from Manny Franco to Dylan Davis. His measure of fitness is not the issue, per se; rather, it is the class jump, once again. More to do …

Grade: B-

 

#5 Dean’s List (Jky: M. Franco/Trn: T. Pletcher):

If Bob Baffert’s shipper fails to fire or Steve Asmussen’s charge doesn’t make one … then this Todd Pletcher entry could be your winner. I like this WinStar Farm homebred’s progression down at Gulfstream Park, and it is hard to argue with that front-running style of his. Luis Saez doesn’t make the trip up to New York, since he has his hands full in S. Florida. Manny Franco gets the call, and his assignment is simple … control the speed up front. Extending out from 6F to 1 mile shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Speightstown’s offspring are thought of as turf sprinters, for the most part, but that doesn’t mean this one cannot get the distance. If he runs to effect, then he should win. This is a contender, in other words … it’s Pletcher.

Grade: A-

 

#6 Life Is Great (Jky: E. Cancel/Trn: R. Klesaris):

The Klesaris outfit is looking to build on a 2nd place finish last time out in the Jimmy Winkfield $100k @AQU on 6 February. The sprint/router has legs, and flashed some speed. The problem was 2-fold in the end … he couldn’t keep pace with Asmussen’s Morello #9, and he did not reward bettors who backed him at a short price. Now, he is really up against it, and will have to find more. Eric Cancel rode this son of Tapiture back at Belmont in September … he lost by a head then in a MSW90k … he will be lucky to have that chance again.

Grade: C+

 

#7 Noneedtoworry (Jky: S. Gonzalez/Trn: H. Whylie):

The lone Parx PA import is coming back to Aqueduct after running in the G3 Withers S. early last month. On that muddy surface, he was no match for the likes of Early Voting, Un Ojo, and Gilded Age. After what the one-eyed-wonder just did at Oaklawn in the Rebel S., it is hard to think that this one can manage better than 5th place. In other words, he is going to be up against the ropes for trainer Herold Whylie. Luckily, his regular rider, Silvestre Gonzalez is making the trip from Bensalem once again. It is not too far a jaunt ... 

Grade: B-

 

#8 Bold Journey (Jky: J. Vargas/Trn: B. Mott):

To my eye, if there is a wild card in this race, it is this son of Hard Spun. Trained by HOF-er Bill Mott, most might dismiss his entry because of those state co. races that he seemed to excel in. I like those efforts, even if the last one did not result in a score. Maybe Jorge Vargas can spring an upset, and prove that Kendrick Carmouche should not have left this mount. Mott is a trainer with an excellent record in situations like these over his long career. I wouldn’t count this one out. He will probably be my “wise guy” pick when it comes time to wager.

Grade: B

 

#9 Morello (Jky: J. Lezcano/Trn: S. Asmussen):

There is much to like about this son of Classic Empire, and it goes beyond his sire. Steve Asmussen has a small cadre of runners up at NYRA, and it just goes to prove his long reach. This smart-looking colt was excellent in the Jimmy Winkfield S., and all Jose Lezcano had to do in the end was enjoy the ride—by 5-lengths. Now, the true test arrives, and I think this colt is ready for his close-up. This one has great promise, and he will probably have a great shot at taking home the Derby Points … the one Triple Crown race that has eluded North America’s all-time winningest conditioner. Lezcano is riding as well as can be too …

Grade: A-

 

#10 Rockefeller (Jky: T. McCarthy/Trn: B. Baffert):

Trainer Bob Baffert continues to be on the receiving end of rotten vegetables and stale bread … He probably is so focused on entering races and fighting court battles, that he has had little time to listen to those that want to see him go down in flames. He went to the rack to force NYRA to reinstate him, and he returns to New York ready to compete. This colt by Medaglia d’Oro is a strong contender, but he could not get past his stablemate, Newgrange, in the Sham S. (G3) last time he hit the track at Santa Anita. Maybe he strikes at this group with a vengeance, or that race uncovered his weakness? That being … a controlling speed. Trevor McCarthy gets the call in what I think is a tough spot, but he is a pro, and can handle it. My sense is that this Baffert runner is not all that solid; despite his $750k price that he was sold for at the Keeneland September Sale back in 2020. Otherwise, don’t you think he would have remained at Baffert’s base in SoCal? Hmm …

Grade: B+

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Join us Saturday for all of our Aqueduct selections! Should be a great set of races from “The Big A!” Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!

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