Race 10 – Grade 3 Gotham Stakes – 1 Mile
A field of 11 are signed up to try to make the Derby gate in the last chance opportunity to get points while only going around 1 turn. The Gotham historically has been a poor springboard for Derby success, so let’s see if that trend is likely to continue.
#1 Celtic Striker – This son of Congrats only has 1 poor race to his name, when he was up against Independence Hall while making his first start against winners and coming off a bit of a layoff. One can forgive that effort, as he did bounce back and run well next out at Parx, but even so he will need to take a large move forward today to compete in this spot. There is a lot of other speed signed on, so he may play a pace factor at best but is unlikely to hang around late. Toss.
#2 Informative – It feels like every year Uriah St. Lewis shows up in a big race with a huge longshot who hits the board. Informative took a while to get his first win, but he was also tackling stakes company while still a maiden, so the record isn’t as bad as it appears. His race 3 back at Laurel would be competitive here, but he has yet to run back to that figure and seems up against it today. With a likely hot pace to run after and a ground-saving draw, it wouldn’t be impossible for him to round out the super at a big price. Live longshot.
#3 War Stopper – War Stopper came through with a monster race last out, as the switch to dirt and addition of blinkers clearly worked for Rudy. Others in here appear quicker off the draw, so it appears unlikely he gets the same loose lead he enjoyed last out. A repeat of his last race would make him fit in here, but today’s field is much tougher than the maidens he faced last out. Board hitter.
#4 Attachment Rate – Attachment Rate is a tough horse to figure out, mostly because of the glaring timing error by the Trakus system in his last race at Gulfstream. It appears that the timer starter about 1 second late, which is understandable due to the awful weather conditions, but it has resulted in pace and speed figures that are completely inaccurate. Ignoring the speed figures, the race did appear visually impressive, as he took command in the turn and drew off powerfully. The waters are much deeper here though, and I fear he will be over-bet based on the erroneous timing of the last race. Board hitter, but likely underlay.
#5 Necker Island – Necker Island ran a better than it looks 5th last out in the G3 Swale Stakes. The Gulfstream Park main track generally favors inside posts, and Necker Island got squeezed a bit at the break and shuffled back while 6-wide for the majority of the race. He allegedly had a setback after the Churchill allowance win and may not have been 100% for the Swale. It does not instill confidence to see usual Sagamore/Hough jockey Saez on another mount in here, but picking up one of the top local jocks in Franco always helps. One to keep an eye on, as he might be better than he’s shown. Live longshot.
#6 Mischievous Alex – The likely morning line favorite, Mischievous Alex is a deserving top choice in this race. He boasts the most accomplished record in the field, with 2 dominant stakes wins to his name. He has loads of speed should he elect to use it, but he is also capable of rating, which could prove key in this spot. His only try at a mile on dirt saw him take the lead at the stretch but get caught late, but that appears to be more of a result of an early move by McCarthy rather than a stamina issue, as he easily put away his foes at 7 furlongs in his last 2 races. Kendrick taking the mount suggests he will be aggressive early and on or near the lead, but he appears that he might just be good enough to run them all off their feet anyway. Win contender.
#7 Sixto – Sixto projects as a bit of a wildcard in this race, as Guillot aggressively spots this one in stakes company while making only his second career start. He was impressive in breaking his maiden and earned a decent speed figure, but that was going 6 furlongs and against a much weaker field than he encounters here. Perhaps if the race falls apart he could pick up some of the pieces, but seems unlikely. Toss.
#8 Montauk Traffic – Toss the debut where he dwelt badly and never left the gate and you have a horse who is 2 for 2 lifetime with both wins coming over the local surface for one of the top trainers on the circuit and her first call jockey on board. Watching the gallop out from the debut race, my instant reaction was to bet this horse next time out when going longer. Linda has taken her time with this one and brought him along methodically, and it appears her patience has been rewarded. If a contested pace emerges, this is the off the pace horse I want the most. Top pick.
#9 Flap Jack – Arlington Park invader seems completely overmatched here, and his lone try on dirt was a poor effort. Would be a massive upset. Toss.
#10 Untitled – Untitled ran an absolutely huge race in his debut as a 2-year-old, prompting Gary Barber to privately purchase him and transfer him to the Casse barn, where he was immediately thrown into stakes company. His effort in the Swale was excusable, as he was banged around immediately after the break and was facing winners for the first time. He gained some valuable experience from that race and was a game second next out when wheeling back on less than 2 weeks rest. The winner of that Tampa allowance race, Gouverneur Morris, is one of Pletcher’s top Derby candidates and has 2 wins from 3 starts, with the lone defeat coming to early Derby favorite Maxfield at Keeneland. There is other speed in here to contend with, and the outside draw does him no favors, but if he can work out the right trip he could be extremely dangerous. Win contender.
#11 First Deputy – Linda Rice trainee took a while to figure things out, but once the light came on, he backed up his maiden score with another solid effort. He’s taking a big step up in class versus the state bred company he’s been up against, and he’s also stretching out an extra 2 furlongs. Pedigree suggests he should handle the distance, but not sure he’s quite this good. Board hitter.
Picks: This edition of the Gotham feels like it comes down to how you feel about likely favorite #6 Mischievous Alex. He clearly appears to be the horse to beat, but there is significant other pace presence signed on and his only try at a mile found him a little short late. #8 Montauk Traffic is the top selection, as I feel the pace will be honest enough to set up his late run, and he should relish the extra distance. #10 Untitled is extremely dangerous, but he needs to clear some of the horses to his inside and avoid a wide trip. Those 3 are the likeliest winners, but I feel there will be significant value keying one of the late running types such as #2 Informative or a troubled trip horse such as #5 Necker Island underneath for exotics. #4 Attachment Rate is another who makes sense to hit the board, but I feel he will be bet down to the 7/2 range and not offer fair value.