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|J Toscano Jr
|LIFE IS GREAT
|J Vargas Jr
$10 Exacta Part Wheel – Morello over Glider, Dean’s List and Runninsonofagun = $30
$5 Exacta Part Wheel – Glider over Morello, Dean’s List and Runninsonofagun = $15
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Morello (3/1).
Coming off an impressive stakes victory last month at Aqueduct, the unbeaten Morello could be the choice as the favorite when he faces nine others in a wide-open edition of the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes on Saturday at the Big A.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Morello has won both of his career starts at Aqueduct. He began his career with an easy score in a 6-furlong maiden race in late November and followed that up with a similar-looking 5-length romp in the 7 furlong Jimmy Winkfield Stakes four weeks ago.
Sporting an identical 2-for-2 record while sprinting like Morello is Dean’s List. Trained by the Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, the son of Speightstown has made both of his career starts going 6 furlongs at Gulfstream Park.
A romping winner in his debut in December, he came back to score again in an allowance race in January.
The more recent win was a hard-fought victory where he finished ahead of the stakes caliber horses Dean Delivers and In Due Time.
The Bob Baffert-trained Rockefeller will be ineligible to collect Derby qualifying points, but is another who should vie for favoritism on Saturday.
A son of Medaglia d’Oro, last time he came East he registered a convincing 2 ¾-length score in the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes at Belmont. Most recently, he finished as the runner-up to his stablemate Newgrange in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.
Contested at one mile, the one-turn Gotham will award qualifying points for this spring’s Kentucky Derby on a scale of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers.
What’s not to like about this one’s first two career races?
He comfortably laid a little off the pace before pouncing and dominating down the stretch in each. Better yet, they both came at Aqueduct, and having finished well at 6 and then 7 furlongs, he seems perfectly suited to the one-turn mile of the Gotham. There are a few others in here who have faced tougher competition in their career, but the son of Classic Empire gives the impression of a horse who should do just fine as he moves up the class ladder.
This is not an easy spot, but the Steve Asmussen-trained runner should sit the trip behind the early speed and swing into action on the far turn. He is the top pick.
Also unbeaten in two career starts, this one does his best running on the front end. A son of Speightstown, trained by Todd Pletcher, he has run and won in two fast 6 furlong sprints at Gulfstream Park.
After easily winning his debut, he had a much tougher time last time, but beat good horses when pulling off a neck victory. He will face good horses once again here as he stretches out to a mile and leaves Gulfstream Park.
I think he is quite talented and is certainly eligible to take this field all the way around, but there should be early pressure in here that makes his job that much tougher. I will use him in the second start, but I think someone will get to him in the stretch on Saturday.
Bouncing back and forth from California to New York, this son of Medaglia d’Oro makes his second trip east for trainer Bob Baffert.
After winning in his debut at Del Mar, he has run in three straight graded stakes and has been a factor early in each.
Not quite able to get the job done against tough competition at Santa Anita twice, he appreciated the easier spot in the Grade 3 Nashua at Belmont Park. This one looks tougher than that, though, and with other speed in the race, I do not fancy his chances from the outside post and as the high weight. He’s a threat in class, but I am looking elsewhere.
After not doing much in his career debut on a synthetic surface at Gulfstream Park, this son of Quality Road found the dirt in his second start.
Taken off the turf, he appreciated the surface switch and came from well back to win the 1 mile and 70 yard maiden race going away.
Remaining on the dirt for his third career start, this time at Tampa Bay Downs, he made another nice move to pull even with the heavy favorite, but was turned away by the talented Emmanuel. I’m not sure anyone in the Gotham is as good as that one.
With speed in front to set the table, this one looks like a very interesting alternative to the favorites as he brings his game north to New York.
Bred in New York, this son of Hard Spun has run three nice races to begin his career. A near miss in his debut was followed by an impressive romp over Golden Code in mid-December.
That maiden win was enough to make him a heavy favorite in the one-mile Gander Stakes three weeks, where he looked home free in the stretch before being swept past late. All were good efforts, but all came against state breds.
He looks like he has the potential to be a very nice horse, but if he couldn’t close the deal last time, I cannot back him this time against better competition.
Another New York-bred, this one might also have a real future.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and a son of Honor Code, he ran into Bold Journey in his debut and was no match eleven weeks ago.
Off that well-beaten second, he came back four weeks ago to obliterate fellow state breds by 10 ¾-lengths in the mud. Now only two races into his career, he tries not only open company for the first time, but also graded stakes competition.
I think the jump will probably be a bit too much, but he is clearly a horse to watch out for down the road.
This son of Unified finally broke his maiden last time in his sixth career start and did it nicely, dominating his competition on the front end. Now he will try to build some momentum off the victory as he tries graded stakes company for the second time.
Last time he tested these waters, he set the pace in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, but folded up the tent early and was done before they hit the stretch. Perhaps he can fare better this time, but with other speed in the race, I think his task is not all that much easier than it was in the Remsen.
Not to be confused with the monster Life Is Good, this son of Tapiture has only one win in six career starts. Still, he has been pretty consistent with five finishes in the money.
After breaking his maiden at Aqueduct in his fourth start, he graduated to stakes company, finishing third in the Herat Stakes at Laurel and then second in the Jimmy Winkfield.
That’s not bad, but he was no match for Morello last time and this only gets tougher this time around. I like others better.
Having run against only claiming horses in his first three starts, this son of Gun Runner will be a deserving long shot in the Gotham. Having said that, there are a few things to like.
Twice claimed already in his career, he has won both of his starts at Aqueduct, and looked good doing it while sprinting. He looks like not only a horse on the improve, but also one who should appreciate the added distance.
The step-up in class will be daunting, but this early in his career maybe he can pull off a big surprise.
Based at Parx for his owner/trainer Harold Whylie, this son of Algorithms got off to a slow start to his career but improved to break through with wins in both his fourth and fifth lifetime starts. They came in a maiden and an allowance at the Pennsylvania track, where he certainly defeated far lesser competition than he will see in the Gotham.
His first try against tougher came in the Grade 3 Withers and he was only able to pass tired horses while finishing mid-pack on a muddy track. I don’t suspect he will fare any better against this bunch.
|Gotham Stakes Race Information
|Gotham Stakes (Grade 3)
|Saturday, March 5 — 5:27 pm Eastern time
|How to Watch
|Fox Sports 1
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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