Aqueduct will host the G3 Gotham Stakes this Saturday. The featured 10th race on the card will have 9 hopefuls running for their share of a $300,000 purse and the coveted 50 Kentucky Derby points. The race will be run around 1 turn over Aqueduct’s dirt course.
Aqueduct’s 1 mile dirt routes have been running with an inside and up front bias. 30% of the last 174 winners led gate to wire. Winning post positions have been evenly distributed, which makes sense in a race with such a long run before the turn. Any decent jockey should be able to maneuver to an acceptable path in the half mile straightaway out of the chute.
There is enough speed in this field that a competitive pace should develop. There are several sprinters taking their first shot at a route. The best early figures belong to longshot Cove Blue, and he will be joined up front by Laurel shipper Old Time Revival, and Jeremiah Englehart’s Nine Route.
The most interesting horse in the race will be 2-1 morning line favorite Free Drop Billy. Trainer Dale Romans scratched this colt from last week’s Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, opting to work the horse that same day and pointing to this week’s Gotham. This scratch allowed stable mate Promises Fulfilled to easily wire the field at 20-1. Free Drop Billy was scratched from a $400,000 G2 race and shipped to NY for a $300,000 G3. Obviously Romans knew who the best horse in his barn was on that day, but I was surprised that he scratched the more accomplished Free Drop Billy in that spot.
So where does Free Drop Billy rate on my ticket? At a 2-1 morning line, he doesn’t. His work last Saturday was mediocre at best (5f in 1:02 and 2). I can’t back him here if Romans could not back him in a soft spot last week.
Firenze Fire, the 3-1 morning line 2nd choice, is a multiple graded stake winner coming off of a 2nd place effort in the G3 Withers here at Aqueduct. That race was at 1-1/8 miles and Firenze Fire finished willingly, so the cut back to a mile may not be what this horse needs. I think he wants to run farther.
Then there is west coast shipper Beautiful Shot. Taking his first crack at a route, he is 2 for 3 in sprints included a 3rd in the 7f G3 Bob Hope where he finished behind notables Greyvitos and Morinho. Greyvitos came back to win the $400k Springboard Mile before being sidelined with an injury. My concern here is that jockey Keith Desourmeaux stayed in California to ride brother Kent’s entry in the San Felipe against the likes of Bolt D’oro, a much tougher spot.
With reasons to dismiss the short prices, I will take a price shot this week and back 12-1 morning line Whereshetoldmetogo. This stalker will be making his first start in a graded stake after a 4-wide winning trip in his last at Gulfstream Park. He looks to be on the improve so with another step forward I will hope to cash at a nice price.
It’s Whereshetoldmetogo for the win.