The Derby trail heads east this week as Aqueduct hosts the G3 Gotham Stakes. A purse of $300,000 and 50-20-10-5 derby points are available as a field of eight competes for 1 mile around 1 turn on the dirt. The Gotham’s 50 derby points should guarantee the winner a spot in the run for the roses.
Aqueduct 1 mile events out of the chute have been favoring horses on or near the lead with 27% of winners going wire to wire, and a whopping 76% of winners being either on the lead or from a stalking spot. With such a long run to the turn, post position winners have been evenly distributed.
The best speed in the field belongs to the even money morning line favorite, Instagrand. This California based Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is lucky to have been scheduled in NY’s Gotham as racing at Santa Anita has been cancelled this weekend due to an unusually high amount of equine injuries and deaths. Instagrand, who is making his first start since August, is 2 for 2 lifetime with both wins being by 10 lengths, one at 5f and one at 6f.
Instagrand will be joined up front by 2 other sprinters, Tikhvin Flew and Much Better, as well as by Mind Control and Not That Brady. Sitting behind these should be the unpredictable Knicks Go and Haikal. The only horse in the field that has not shown an affinity for being up close is the 30-1 longshot Family Biz.
With a few sprinters and distance front runners, it would seem that we should have a hot pace, but I predict the pace to be modest. While there are a lot of “1’s” in the running lines of these horses, none has posted blistering early pace figures. If someone wants to be overly aggressive, I don’t see the others having the ability to go with them.
The horse I landed on to finish strongly is Not That Brady. Not That Brady had a horrible trip in the G3 Withers here at Aqueduct where he ran extremely wide around the 1st turn and was pushed to the front in a robust 47 and 2 half mile. Sitting behind him was 2-1 favorite, Tax, who saved all the ground and prevailed by a head. But down the lane in the Withers, Not That Brady showed tons of heart as he was passed by Tax and co-favorite Our Brain Trust. In spite of the 40 feet of extra ground he had covered and the quick pace, Not That Brady dug in and came back to head Our Brain Trust for 2nd and barely missed overtaking Tax as well.
In this week’s Gotham, Not That Brady cuts back to a 1 turn mile so I expect him to let the sprinters sprint and use his speed to rate just a coupe of lengths behind them. At a mile I think he will have enough speed to get the jump on any closer and enough stamina to outlast the sprinters. Let’s take Not That Brady for the win and hope for the 5-1 morning line payout.