Field size has been a thorny issue the last few years. Dwindling fields mean fewer betting options and smaller payouts, yet field size takes on a whole new meaning in regards to the Gotham Stakes, where too many horses turned out.
A total of 15 3-year-olds were entered in Saturday’s one-turn mile stakes at Aqueduct, leaving one of them on the also-eligible list. As a result, the Gotham promises to be a great betting race while offering 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve points, respectively, to the top five finishers.
1. Clear the Air (30-1 morning-line odds): He’s only raced once on dirt and that was a fifth in his debut at Ellis Park. This spot seems overly ambitious for a 3-year-old who is also entered in Saturday’s John Battaglia Memorial Stakes on a synthetic surface. He’ll fit better there if he can draw in off the also-eligible list.
JOCKEY: Jack Gilligan; TRAINER: William Walden
2. Howgreatisnate (10-1): How great? We’ll find out here as he takes a big step up in class after starting his career with four straight wins. He’s never raced beyond six furlongs or faced graded stakes company, so this will be a formidable challenge for the Mid-Atlantic shipper.
JOCKEY: J. D. Acosta; TRAINER: Andrew Simoff
3. Mr. Swagger (10-1): Won his debut nicely at Aqueduct in late January. The time was fine and adds blinkers, but the distance may not suit him.
JOCKEY: Carlos Olivero; TRAINER: Juan Avila
4. Uncorrelated (10-1): The time for his debut win was mediocre, but it was it was on a sloppy track. There’s not a whole lot to like, except that he’s from Chad Brown barn, which offsets numerous concerns. Worth a long look at the right price.
JOCKEY: Manny Franco; TRAINER: Chad Brown
5. Carmel Road (6-1): One of two former Bob Baffert horses in the field. He was second in the Los Alamitos Futurity at 1 1/16 miles and enters off a string of impressive workouts at Santa Anita. Looks to be one of the main players in this super-sized field.
JOCKEY: Eric Cancel; TRAINER: Tim Yakteen
6. General Banker (30-1): He’s been busy and successful lately. This will be his fourth start in an Aqueduct stakes since Dec. 17 and he was no worse than third in the first three. The New York-bred may not have enough speed to win, but he’s a definite threat to crack the exotics.
JOCKEY: Frankie Pennington; TRAINER: Jimmy Ferraro
7. Transect (15-1): He’s never run on dirt, but he is by Gun Runner out of an A.P. Indy mare which screams dirt in the pedigree. Trying to figure what he’ll do here is a guessing game, but would not toss him if you’re playing the exotics and might use him as a saver play at the right odds.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; TRAINER: Paulo Lobo
8. Fort Warren (12-1): Another former Bob Baffert runner. His credentials are not as strong as Carmel Road. He was third in the San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs in just his second start and could make his presence felt, if he runs. He’s also entered in a Monday stakes at Parx Racing.
JOCKEY: Jevian Toledo; TRAINER: Brittany Russell
9. Clubhouse (20-1): Much like Uncorrelated, his connections make him attractive. Trained by Todd Pletcher, he was second in the six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield Stakes last time out. He seems to be getting better and can be a contender here at a one-turn mile.
JOCKEY: Kendrick Carmouche; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
10. Lugan Knight (6-1): He will surely like the distance as he won the Jerome here earlier this year, which was also contested at a one-turn mile. This figures to be a much tougher test with plenty of company for him on the front end, but his workouts indicate he has maintained his form since the Jan. 7 Jerome Stakes and he should not be ignored.
JOCKEY: Dylan Davis; TRAINER: Michael McCarthy
11. Slip Mahoney (5-1): Trainer Brad Cox has been a force on the Triple Crown trail and he’s one of two Cox starters in the field. He’s coming off a determined maiden win but might have been more impressive the time before that when he lost by a head to Pletcher’s Tapit Trice, who won his next start by eight lengths. Should be a major force here.
JOCKEY: Trevor McCarthy; TRAINER: Brad Cox
12. Raise Cain (30-1): If you toss out his start on a synthetic track last time, there are things to like. He was second in the 1 1/16-mile Gun Runner Stakes and third in a six-furlong stakes at Keeneland before that. Others have more appeal, but in a big field with the potential for big odds, he merits some attention.
JOCKEY: Jose Lezcano; TRAINER: Ben Colebrook
13. Eyeing Clover (4-1): He’s undefeated after two starts for Cox and won a Fair Grounds allowance race by nearly 10 lengths. He has a high cruising speed and will be tested on the front end, but there’s plenty of potential here and he should be battling to the very end. Could very easily give Cox another Kentucky Derby prep winner
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Brad Cox
14. Recruiter (12-1): Like Howgreatisnate, he’s 4-for-4 and shipping in to face graded stakes company for the first time. His speed figures paint him as a contender but the draw, putting him on the far outside and directly outside of Eyeing Clover, place him in a tough spot where he will have to be hard-used early and that could haunt him late.
JOCKEY: Angel Cruz; TRAINER: Cathal Lynch
15. Radio Red (AE: 50-1): He’ll need a scratch to run, which he may get, but he looks overmatched here off a state-bred maiden win at six furlongs in mediocre time.
JOCKEY: Jose Gomez; TRAINER: Danny Gargan
THE PICK: Slip Mahoney
LIVE LONGSHOT: Transect
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