The $300,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct may not prove to be the most impactful of the quartet of Kentucky Derby (G1) preps scheduled for Saturday, but its attractiveness as a betting proposition might outdistance the others.
The one-mile Gotham has attracted a full gate of 14 three-year-olds, with one also-eligible waiting in the wings. Lugan Knight gutted out a victory in the Jan. 7 Jerome S., the last local Derby prep contested over one mile, but will be facing a far deeper cast here.
Trainer Brad Cox has entered two, Slip Mahoney and Eyeing Clover. Slip Mahoney ran the the highly-rated Tapit Trice to a head decision in a mid-December maiden over the Gotham track and distance, and then graduated narrowly by a head a month later while earning a 98 Brisnet Speed rating. Eyeing Clover, meanwhile, won a key Oaklawn maiden in his New Year’s Eve debut, and followed up with a 9 3/4-length allowance score at Fair Grounds. Both races were over six furlongs.
Invading from California are Carmel Road, who shortens up after finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) in December, and Fort Warren, a distant third of four in the San Vicente (G2) last out. Both colts were recently transferred out of the Bob Baffert stable, with Tim Yakteen now training Carmel Road and Fort Warren under the watch of Brittany Russell.
A pair of colts from the Mid-Atlantic invade Gotham, each with a perfect record from four starts. Howgreatisnate was last seen winning a minor stakes at Parx in early December and has yet to run beyond six furlongs, while Recruiter has won stakes at both Laurel and Parx, though has drawn very wide in post 14.
Entering with some upside are local debut winners Mr. Swagger and Uncorrelated, as well as Kentucky raider Transect, who is a two-time winner over Turfway’s synthetic surface. Trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by Clubhouse, second in the Jimmy Winkfield S. last month.
All but three in the main body of the Gotham field are current Triple Crown nominees and are eligible for the Kentucky Derby qualifying points on offer in the Gotham. The respective distribution to the top five finishers will be 50-20-15-10-5.
The $200,000 Busher S., also over one mile, will offer Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points of 50-20-15-10-5 to the respective top five finishers. Only six fillies passed the entry box, including the Chad Brown-trained Asset Purchase, who won on debut by eight lengths going 6 1/2 furlongs in late January.
Also impressing first out was Ziaerati, who cruised by 8 1/4 lengths going seven furlongs on Jan. 15. The daughter of Into Mischief earned a 99 Brisnet Speed rating for that performance.
Among those with a little more experience is the Brown-trained Shidabhuti, who is 2-for-2 following a two-length allowance win over the Busher track and distance on Jan. 22.