October 21, 2021

El Areeb fires bullet for Gotham

El Areeb continues to train forwardly at his Laurel base (Photo by Maryland Jockey Club/Jim McCue)

Jerome (G3) and Withers (G3) conqueror El Areeb polished off his preparations for Saturday’s Gotham (G3) with a bullet drill Sunday at his Laurel base.

The Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful negotiated five furlongs in 1:00.80, easily the best of eight at the distance on the fast track. Regular rider Trevor McCarthy was aboard the gray.

Watch his work here, courtesy of the Maryland Racing YouTube channel:

“We’re delighted. It was a very good work this morning,” trainer Cathal Lynch said. “He came back good and scoped good and went right in his feed tub. So far, all systems are a go.

“The track wasn’t as fast as it was last week,” he added, alluding to El Areeb’s half-mile spin in :47.80 February 18, “and he still went in a minute and change. That’s the way he is.

“He’s going to work quick whenever he thinks he’s going to do something with Trevor, but he did it all in hand. He galloped out in 1:13 all the way back around to the three-eighths pole.”

El Areeb will bring a four-race winning streak into the Gotham, his third straight invasion of Aqueduct. Immediately after the February 4 Withers, Lynch had mulled skipping the Gotham, but El Areeb has been training too sharply to keep him under wraps.

“He’s in good form and the horse is doing well, that’s why we’re going ahead and decided we’d take a shot at the Gotham rather than wait any longer,” the horseman said. “You have to go ahead and run them when they’re good.”

In the below video from Laurel, Lynch was asked about El Areeb’s 20-1 morning line on Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which closes Sunday evening at 6 p.m. (EST). With a twinkle in his eye, he reveals they’d snapped him up a couple of months ago at 50-1: