Friday, March 1, 2013

Gotham Stakes Analysis & Selections

GothamA trend is starting to appear. A Gotham Stakes (G-2) winner has won or placed in a Triple Crown race every eleven years.

In between however, the Classic prospects are slim pickings. In 2011 Stay Thirsty won the Gotham and was second by a narrow margin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2000 Red Bullet won the Gotham and went on to win a Classic Race, when he spoiled Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus’ Triple Crown bid in the Preakness. Eleven years earlier, Easy Goer also pulled a Gotham/Belmont Stakes double.

With the new Kentucky Derby points system, perhaps the eleven year cycle will be broken. This year's Gotham field doesn't appear as strong as the Fountain of Youth or Risen Star.

Kiaran McLaughlin has entered three well-bred colts, all of whom are jumping into stakes competition after maiden wins. The colt with the most experience is TRANSPARENT ( Bernardini - Habiboo, by Unbridled's Song). He needed five rehearsals for the light bulb to go on, and Transparent won his maiden decisively in his sixth start. He powered home a 5 ¾ length winner traveling 1 mile 70 yards at Aqueduct. Transparent has the pedigree to handle 1 ¼ miles. His young Horse of the Year sire has already produced winners at 1 ¼ miles and his son Stay Thirsty won the Gotham and was second in the Belmont Stakes. Transparent's dam is a multiple graded stakes placed runner. She's also a half sister to the Grade 1 winning sprinter Street Boss (By Street Sense).

ElnaawiPossibly the most well bred colt in the field is ELNAAWI ( Street Sense - Pilfer, by Deputy Minister). The half brother to multiple Grade 1 winner To Honor And Serve splashed his way to a four length victory in his second start. During an eventful race, Elnaawi bumped at the start, raced three wide while pressing the pace and drew off to a four length victory going a mile.

McLaughlin's third entry is NOW AND THEN (Tiznow - Holiday Runner, by Meadowlake). He galloped to a 1 ¼ length victory over Champion Boy in his only start. Now And Again is a half brother to multiple Grade 1 heroine Seventh Street, winner of the Apple Blossom and Go For Wand handicaps. He's also a half brother to stakes placed Reynaldothewizard and American Story. Their dam beat the boys in the three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at Churchill and also won the Fashion Stakes, both sprints.

OveranalyzeA lot of attention will be paid to OVERANALYZE (Dixie Union - Unacloud, by Unaccounted For). The Pletcher trainee is making his first start since a gritty nose decision in last year's Remsen Stakes. Read his pedigree profile.

Vyjack_Jerome_StakesVYJACK (Into Mischief - Life Happened, by Stravinsky) battled from start to finish in a game effort in the Jerome Stakes (G-2) prevailing by a head over second place finisher Siete de Oros despite bumping through the stretch with that rival. It was three lengths back to Amerigo Vespucci. The son of Into Mischief is undefeated in three starts. Read his pedigree profile.

ESCAPEFROMREALITY (Read the Footnotes - Queen of the City, by Medaglia d'Oro) was on the losing end of a neck photo finish in his last two starts. Unlike the above-mentioned colts, Escapefromreality hails from a modest distaff family. His second, third and fourth dams all own blacktype and their offspring are mainly tough allowance/claiming class runners. Escapefromreality has improving BRIS speed figures and he's been working strongly for the race.

AMERIGO VESPUCCI (Henrythenavigator - Senza Paura, by Fly Till Dawn) was four wide around the second turn and ran evenly for fourth place in the Withers. He appears to be an average dirt runner and slightly a cut below the top of this group. Amerigo Vespucci's pedigree strongly leans towards turf. His second crop sire was a multiple Group-1 winner in England and Ireland and was runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic when it was held over Polytrack. Amerigo Vespucci's dam won her maiden sprinting on dirt, but the remainder of her victories, including a stakes win and Grade 2 placing, came over the lawn. His damsire was a long-winded multiple G-1 turf router.

Siete de orosSIETE DE OROS (A. P. Warrior - Crafty Sarah, by Crafty Friend) tired to finish third, two lengths behind the winner in the Withers. Despite stamina oriented bloodlines, his sire failed to win past 1 1/6 miles. Siete de Oros' dam was a veteran of 26starts at the claiming level, winning between 6F and 1 1/16 miles. Siete de Oros is the first American stakes winner in his distaff line in two generations and appears to be outrunning his pedigree.

CHAMPION BOY (Big Brown - My Amandari, by El Prado (IRE)) was five wide around the turn and into the stretch of the Withers Stakes. The maiden has been beaten by over nine lengths on the dirt. The pretty gray colt has a pedigree better suited to the turf. His dam was an allowance level miler over the lawn. His second dam is a Grade 3 winner, but that's it for class in the immediate female family.

OrePassORE PASS (War Pass - Wisconsin Lady, by Stephen Got Even) ships in from Laurel after out-classing his rivals in the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes. He has a speed over stamina pedigree. His dam made 11 starts at the allowance level, finishing in the money in four tries. She's a full sister to Time To Get Even, a Grade 3 winning sprinter. A half sister produced a stakes placed runner, so there's some modest ability in the family. Ore Pass posted a bullet in his first breeze after his victory, so the colt could step up here.

SKY CAPTAIN (Sky Mesa - Anchors Away, by Smarty Jones) was second in an 1 1/8 mile allowance race behind Cerro in his last start. It was a good effort and he should appreciate the cut back in distance. Sky Captain is the first foal produced by his unraced dam. She's a half sister to the classy Eight Belles who was second to Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby. A half brother Escape Route, is multiple stakes placed. Sky Captain's second and third dams are stakes winners and his fourth dam Straight Deal is a Champion Handicap Mare and blue hen.

WestHillsGiantWEST HILLS GIANT (Frost Giant - Outtawesthills, by Take Me Out) won a couple of state-bred races last year and got up for third in his first start of the season. He adds blinkers for the Gotham. The Chestnut colt is by the second crop sire sensation Frost Giant, whose breaking all sorts of state-bred sire records in New York and is currently #17 on the national second crop sire list. His offspring should improve with maturity. West Hills Giant is the first blacktype runner in three generations of his distaff family. He's already won at 1 1/6 miles and has been working well.


Track Bias: 38% of the early speed wins on the inside track at Aqueduct. All except three runners have and early pace-pressing running style.

The undefeated Jerome Stakes winner Vyjack has proved his tenacity and maybe this will be his break-through win. Pletcher Derby hopefuls have finished second in their three year old debuts. Overanalyze wants to go longer, but let's tag him for the #2 spot. Escapefromreality has improving speed figures and a strong work pattern. He also owns the highest current late pace figure. I'd like to see Elnaawi on dry dirt first, either that or pray for rain. He too has improving figures and has one of the classiest pedigrees in the field. His stablemate Now And Again is also well bred. McLaughlin is 17% with the maiden to stakes angle. West Hills Giant is an intriguing longshot. His first race off of a layoff wasn't bad and he's bred to go longer. He adds blinkers and his post-race work was pretty good.

#7 Vyjack

#11 Overanalyze

#3 Escapefromreality

#10 West Hills Giant – longshot pick