The Gotham


…..and the John Battaglia Memorial

This week differs from last week in the impact these preps have made on the Triple Crown Trail in recent times – Whereas both preps last week produced winners in last year’s event, these two have made little to no impact come Derby Day. A number of reasons could account for this: Timing, as this time of year tends to separate the contenders from the early two year olds that can’t go classic distances; Surface, as Aqueduct’s Inner Track is such a unique prospect that horses tend to love or hate it; Weather, as many stables have moved their valuable stock down south to ensure that training & preparation won’t be interrupted by Mother Nature. Whatever a trainer’s reasons, the cream just usually isn’t at the big A for the Gotham and as a result the last winner of a Triple Crown race to be victorious in both was Red Bullet in 2000 (the Preakness.). The race was run once on the inner dirt in 2003 and was moved to said surface in 2006, and shippers have won all but two renewals since that time. So, let’s begin.

The Gotham

As mentioned before, this has been a shipper’s paradise since the official switch to the inner track in 2006. Yes, Vyjack won last year but all except the last two finishers came from Aqueduct – horses from Gulfstream do exceptionally well in this race and with the lack of a California shipper that’ll be the focus. I really tried to stay away from Financial Mogul due to his very talented stablemate stealing his jockey but the price could be a little too attractive. I know he is technically the “B” team for the Violette barn (not really graded stakes monsters), but what was Samraat beating in the New York bred stakes he blitzed at two? He was gutsy in outgaming Uncle Sigh in the Withers, but ‘Mogul has run against better open company in his past few, and distance seems to be his friend unlike some of his competition. He was obviously thought highly of by the Saratoga crowd that sent him off favored in his first two career starts, but he’s been in the double digits since hitting grade 2 company and should remain there come Saturday. His races are better than they look and he finally escapes the three year old yardstick, Cairo Prince.

Extrasexyhippzster is an interesting shipper with some nice figs earned all over the Midatlantic. He handles the track just fine, but will take another small step forward in distance. While it shouldn’t be a challenge for the speedster, he drew poorly for his graded stakes debut and may lose some very valuable ground in the first turn trying to keep up with the pacesetters. Harpoon is a colt I touched on in the Sam F. Davis, and his stablemate put his nose down on the wire before this gray went by. He probably should have won that day but will now move from the rail to the far outside and will likely have to use the newfound passing tactic again. He’s definitely live in this spot but the price should be paltry once again.

The John Battaglia

This race has also received a major surface change in the past ten years, moving from Turfway’s former dirt to polytrack. Since moved, the race hasn’t made a dent on the Derby Trail and a shipper has won most of the time. It is interesting to see General Jack, winner of the Shakopee Juvenile, pop up for Mike Maker along with his stablemate Harry’s Holiday. ‘Jack hasn’t raced since October but has trained beautifully leading up to his three year old debut. Wayne Catalano doesn’t ship many into Turfway but he brings a couple in for this try – Solitary Ranger could not have drawn much better considering where the rest of the confirmed speed lined up. There’s quite a bit of it lined up to his outside, but he can sit just off a runner as well and Florent Geroux is quite comfortable on that speedy sort of horse. Todd Pletcher isn’t the monster shipping into Turfway that he is at most other ports, especially with his boys. It’s simply very hard to get excited about this race given the lack of impact it should have down the road, but if seeking value in the contest perhaps the one local in the field can provide it.

Remember if you’re coming out to play the Road to Kentucky…..we are changing our tote company as of Saturday and ALL vouchers with the old company need to be cashed ASAP! If you can make it out beforehand, we strongly recommend that you do. The new machines furnished by United Tote will be up and running with new features and a new look! Good luck this weekend!!

by Angela Hermann

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