2021 Gotham Stakes Contenders & Odds

Horse Betting Online

NYRA Press Release | OTB Writer
Updated: March 04, 2021

69th Gotham Stakes Winner Receives 50 Kentucky Derby Qualifying Points

Owner Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown already campaigned a winner in a Kentucky Derby qualifier in New York when Risk Taking captured the Grade 3 Withers last month. On Saturday, they will look to earn "Run for the Roses" points with stakes-winner Highly Motivated in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham for sophomores at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The one-turn mile event is the penultimate local qualifying prep race for the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs, awarding the top-four finishers points via a 50-20-10-5 scale.

The historic event has been a stopping point for all-time greats like 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, whose final winning time of 1:33.40 was only one second and one-fifth off the world-record time set by 1967 Gotham winner Dr. Fager's 1:32.20 in the 1968 Washington Park Handicap. In 1989, Ogden Phipps' Easy Goer broke Secretariat's one-mile track record, completing the journey in 1:32.40.

2021 Gotham Stakes Field & Odds

Race 9 at Aqueduct on Saturday, March 6 - Post 5:07 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Atlantic Road 30-1 Jorge Vargas, Jr.
118 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
2 The Reds 30-1 Pablo Morales
118 Lbs
John Kimmel
3 Highly Motivated 8-5 Javier Castellano
120 Lbs
Chad Brown
4 Wipe the Slate 6-1 Kendrick Carmouche
118 Lbs
Doug O'Neill
5 Crowded Trade 9-2 Eric Cancel
118 Lbs
Chad Brown
6 Capo Kane 5-1 Dylan Davis
120 Lbs
Harold Wyner
7 Freedom Fighter 5-2 Manuel Franco
118 Lbs
Bob Baffert
8 Weyburn 20-1 Trevor McCarthy
118 Lbs
James Jerkens

Highly Motivated has produced a consistent start to his career, with back-to-back wins following his runner-up debut effort behind stablemate Founder in August at Saratoga Race Course.

Highly Motivated graduated at second asking going 6 ½ furlongs over the Belmont Park main track on September 27, where he defeated eventual two-time winner Known Agenda, who finished third in the Grade 2 Remsen in December.

Last out, Highly Motivated displayed a winning effort in the Nyquist on November 6 traveling 6 1/2-furlongs at Keeneland. The son of Into Mischief settled a close fourth behind a grueling pace and took command just inside the eighth pole to draw off by 4 ½ lengths, defeating next-out winners Quick Tempo and Roderick while recording a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

"All three of his races have been excellent, they have been outstanding efforts," said Brown, who trained 2016 Gotham-winner Shagaf. "He certainly has kept good company. That's the thing about starting these horses at Saratoga in the summer and at Belmont in the fall, you never know who you'll run into. Looking back, history tells how strong these races are and he was in some pretty strong ones. It looks to be a real solid group of 3-year-olds everywhere, and he's one of them."

Highly Motivated arrives at the Gotham off a sharp half-mile breeze on February 28 over a fast main track at Payson Park Training Center, completing the four-furlong journey in 49.40 seconds. He shipped to Brown's Belmont Park division on Wednesday morning.

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"Every work of his has been an improvement," Brown said. "His last couple in particular have been very strong works. We rested him a bit and brought him back slowly. We're ready to get his 3-year-old campaign underway."

Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan selected Highly Motivated as a weanling from Lanes' End's consignment at the 2018 Keeneland November Sale, where he was purchased for $240,000.

Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano has ridden Highly Motivated in all three of his starts and will return to the saddle, breaking from post 3.

"He's a big, strong horse," Brown said. "Javier has come back after his races and says he should improve going further. His gallop outs have been eye-catching so that indicated that stretching out in distance won't be an issue."

Brown and Klaravich also team up with impressive maiden-winner Crowded Trade, a son of More Than Ready. The chestnut colt registered an 83 Beyer on debut when hustled out of the gate and settled a distant fifth off a moderate pace before taking command just a few strides out from the finish line.

Since his debut victory, Crowded Trade has made three appearances on the work tab, most recently completing a four-furlong move in 49.03 seconds on February 28 over the Belmont training track.

Breaking from post 5, Crowded Trade will be piloted by Eric Cancel.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sends out graded stakes-placed Freedom Fighter after finishing a close second to stablemate Concert Tour in the Grade 2 San Vicente on February 6 at Santa Anita.

Owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Golconda Stables, Siena Farm and Robert E. Masterson, the son of Violence was after the front end early from his inside post commanding a moderate tempo and dueled with his stablemate throughout the stretch run but came up a half-length shy of victory in the seven-furlong event.

Freedom Fighter was a winner on debut going six furlongs on August 1 at Del Mar six months prior to his next out stakes debut.

"He ran a pretty courageous race after some time off to finish second to Concert Tour, who I think is a nice horse," Baffert said. "I wanted to keep him one turn for now. I'm not sure what his distance limitations are going to be right now, but I think the Gotham is a good step up going from seven-eighths to a mile. He should be ready for that."

Freedom Fighter arrives at the Gotham off a sharp five-furlong drill in 59.20 seconds on February 27 at Santa Anita - the fastest of 63 recorded works at the distance.

"He's been working well. He's coming into the race in top form," said Baffert. "We'll see if he can get the mile. If you look at him, he's built for speed - a sprinter type. But so was [2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner] Smarty Jones. You never know. I'll give the horse a chance to develop on his own."

Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Troy Reed, Freedom Fighter is out of the New York-bred City Zip mare Canadian Ballet, who was a six-time stakes winner going one turn on both dirt and turf. Freedom Fighter was bought for $120,000 from the Hill `n' Dale Sales Agency consignment at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $120,000.

Baffert said Freedom Fighter will have to demonstrate his Derby credentials on Saturday if he is to advance to the first Saturday in May.

"I'm not really thinking Derby with him yet," said Baffert. "He's going to have to prove himself and then we'll see where he fits in."

Jockey Manny Franco has the call aboard Freedom Fighter from post 7.

Horse Racing Rebates

Bing Cherry Racing and Leonard Liberto's Capo Kane returns to the Big A after finishing a pace-setting third in the Grade 3 Withers on February 6.

The California-bred Street Sense colt trained by Harold Wyner graduated at second asking on November 25 at Parx, leading the field the whole way around. He shipped to Aqueduct on New Years' Day to capture the Jerome in similar style, earning 10 Derby points.

Wyner said Capo Kane is likely to rate on Saturday and he prepared the colt with a smart five-eighths breeze in 1:00.21 on February 26 at Parx where he sat off a pair of workmates before circling his company and finishing strong.

Although the Street Sense bay has posted both career wins in gate-to-wire fashion, Wyner noted that Capo Kane ran second on debut in October at Parx going seven furlongs while utilizing an off-the-pace trip.

"We have rated him before," said Wyner. "In his first race, he came from behind and made the lead and then got a little tired and finished second. Lately, he's been on the lead because he has speed, but I think there will be other speed in the Gotham, so we'll let it play out."

Wyner said Capo Kane has benefitted from a more consistent training pattern heading into the Gotham.

"I think the cut back to a one-turn mile is going to help him," said Wyner. "In the Withers, I didn't really have the screws all the way tight on him because I had missed five days of training and I couldn't breeze him when I wanted to breeze him. Going into this race, I was able to breeze him when I wanted to and train him as normal."

Jockey Dylan Davis, who guided Capo Kane in his last two efforts, will return from post 6.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out Atlantic Road following a maiden victory at second asking on February 8 at Aqueduct, where he led from gate to wire to hold off Nepotism by a head.

Owned by Jack and Laurie Wolf's Starlight Racing, the son of Quality Road finished fifth on debut going six furlongs on January 9 at Gulfstream Park in a maiden special weight which saw three other next-out winners. He displayed frontrunning dimensions in his following start when breaking from the rail, shaking off a confrontation from next-out winner Three Two Zone and holding off a late challenge from Nepotism.

Pletcher will be targeting his third Gotham victory having won previously with Cowtown Cat [2007] and Stay Thirsty [2011], who finished a respective 20th and 12th in their subsequent Kentucky Derby efforts.

Atlantic Road breaks from post 1 under Jorge Vargas, Jr.

Reddam Racing's Wipe the Slate ships to New York from California for trainer Doug O'Neill and will remove blinkers and cut back to one turn after a distant sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis on January 30 at Santa Anita.

The son of second crop sire Nyquist was second to highly-regarded Life Is Good on debut at Del Mar before a second-out graduation on December 26 at Santa Anita going seven furlongs, which he won by 3 ¼ lengths while garnering an 88 Beyer.

Jockey Kendrick Carmouche rides Wipe the Slate from post 4.

Completing the field are Flanagan Racing's nine-furlong maiden winner The Reds [post 2, Pablo Morales] for trainer John Kimmel and seven-furlong maiden winner Weyburn [post 8, Trevor McCarthy] for owner Chiefswood Stables and trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

The Gotham is slated as Race 9 on Saturday's 10-race card. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

Pre-Draw News

Wipe the Slate eyeing Derby Points in Gotham

MARCH 1 - Wipe the Slate looks to go from California dreaming to New York state of mind when trekking east for G3 Gotham

Navigating the competitive Kentucky Derby trail will force any 3-year-old to eventually branch beyond an established comfort zone, as steeper competition, expanded race distances and more extensive travel becomes necessary as the first Saturday in May approaches.

Reddam Racing's Wipe the Slate will look to embrace those challenges, shipping across the country from his base at Santa Anita in California to compete in Saturday's Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The one-turn mile will offer 50-20-10-5 Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers and will mark Wipe the Slate's first race outside of the Golden State. The Doug O'Neill trainee ran second in his debut going 6 1/2 furlongs on November 22 at Del Mar before breaking his maiden with an impressive 3 ¼-length score in a seven-furlong sprint on December 26 at Santa Anita to cap his juvenile campaign.

Making his sophomore - and graded stakes debut - Wipe the Slate was stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for his first career route. After bumping a rival, he underwent a wide trip before tiring late, finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis on January 30 at Santa Anita.

Wipe the Slate has continued to train forwardly since that effort, including a six-furlong work in 1:11.60 on Saturday over the Santa Anita main track. A son of Nyquist, the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner, Wipe the Slate will look to benefit from a five-week gap between starts. O'Neill said he expects the Kentucky-bred to handle shipping to the Empire State with aplomb and likes how cutting back to a mile could play to his strength.

"He's always been an impressive colt," said O'Neill, who also trained Nyquist. "I think he'll travel well and I love the one-turn mile for him. We're excited for days ahead."

O'Neill said Kendrick Carmouche, the current Aqueduct winter meet-leading rider, will pick up the mount for the Gotham.

The Gotham, which will have its 69th running this coming weekend, has historical strong connections to the "Run for the Roses," with Secretariat winning it in 1973, tying the track record in an effort that helped propel him to one of the most famous Triple Crown runs in the sport's history. Other highlights include Easy Goer setting a track record in the 1989 edition, setting a mark of 1:32.40 that still stands.

While both Secretariat and Easy Goer are Hall of Famers, O'Neill has the potential to join them among the inductees, as the veteran conditioner was named one of 11 finalists for the 2021 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame class on Wednesday.

O'Neill, primarily based in California, is one of three trainers among the finalists, along with NYRA mainstays Todd Pletcher and Christophe Clement. The 52-year-old O'Neill is a two-time Derby winner in tandem with Reddam Racing, saddling I'll Have Another [who also won the Preakness] in 2012 and following four years later with Nyquist, who ran third in the 2016 Preakness.

O'Neill, who trained his first winner in 1989, has five Breeders' Cup victories to his credit, bolstering a strong resume that features more than 2,500 career wins, including 132 graded stakes. Among his other notable winners was Hall of Famer Lava Man, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup three times and twice both the Santa Anita Handicap and Pacific Classic. Five of his horses have won Eclipse Awards. In addition to his dozens of stakes victories in this country, O'Neill has also tallied international victories in the Godolphin Mile and Japan Cup Dirt.

"The Hall of Fame nomination is a result of working alongside a bunch of amazing horsemen and amazing owners and, of course, amazing horses," said O'Neill.

The Reds puts in final work before potential stakes debut in G3 Gotham

Flanagan Racing's The Reds could be stepping up in class with the possibility of making his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Gotham. Kimmel said he will consider entering the son of 2014 Belmont Stakes-winner Tonalist to either the Kentucky Derby qualifier or running him in an allowance on the same Aqueduct card, with entries being submitted on Wednesday.

The Reds broke his maiden at fifth asking last out, posting a 3 3/4-length win against a five-horse field going 1 1/8 miles on January 31 at the Big A. On Saturday, he worked four furlongs in 52.18 over the Belmont Park dirt training track.

"The work went a little slower than what we had asked for; my normal exercise rider was sick, so he just put in a maintenance-type work in 52 when we wanted closer to 50, but with all that being said, I don't think it'll affect us," Kimmel said. "We have two choices on the same card at the same distance, so we'll make the choice by Wednesday."

The Reds has experience competing at a one-turn mile at the Big A, running fifth on January 8 after a troubled trip.

"The horse is doing fine," Kimmel said. "I think he was kind of rushed off his feet that day and that's not his running style. He's basically a horse who wants to break and get his feet underneath him before you ask him to run. That's how Kendrick [Carmouche] rode him the next time going a mile and an eighth and he did well doing it that way. So, we'll see. There aren't that many options to run once you break your maiden.

"If he runs [in the Gotham], we'll just have to see how handles the jump in class," he added.

Capo Kane turning back in distance for G3 Gotham

Bing Cherry Racing and Leonard Liberto's Capo Kane, a pace-setting third last out in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Withers, turns back to a one-turn mile in Saturday's Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct.

Trainer Harold Wyner put Capo Kane through a smart training session on February 26 at Parx with the California-bred working behind a pair of horses before circling his company and completing the five-eighths breeze in 1:00.21.

"He worked real well. We had two horses set off in front of him and he sat behind them and got the dirt in his face and passed them. He finished off his work real strong," said Wyner. "I know there's going to be a lot of speed in the Gotham and I don't think he needs to be on the lead."

Wyner said Capo Kane, who has demonstrated a tendency to drift out during the stretch run, completed his work straight as an arrow.

"In his work the other day, he didn't drift out one little bit," said Wyner. "He stayed right where he should be and went around the horses nicely and didn't drift at all. He's maturing. He's a lot bigger and wider now."

Greyhound Betting

The Street Sense colt picked up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points on New Year's Day when taking the one-mile Jerome. He added two additional qualifying points for his Withers effort and currently sits in 11th position in the standings with 12 points.

Wyner said the connections will consider a start in the Kentucky Derby if the $26,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds-In Training sale purchase posts a strong effort on Saturday with 50-20-10-5 qualifying points on the line.

"I still think this horse will get the mile and an eighth and the mile and a quarter," said Wyner. "If he runs real well in the Gotham, I'm almost forced to try him in the Wood Memorial going a mile and an eighth [on April 6] to see if he'll get the distance because if he doesn't there won't be any point going to the Derby. The timing is close so we'll have to see how he runs in the Gotham and go from there."

Capo Kane ran second on debut in October at Parx going seven furlongs and capped his juvenile year with a maiden-breaking 4 1/2-length score on November 25 at the same track stretched out to a mile and 70 yards.

Capo Kane won his first stakes start - and sophomore bow - in gate-to-wire fashion, besting a five-horse Jerome field by 6 1/4 lengths, garnering a personal-best 84 Beyer.

Wyner said Capo Kane will ship to New York on the day of the race with jockey Dylan Davis to retain the mount.

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Joseph, Jr. could send either Irish Honor or Awesome Gerry for G3 Gotham

Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. said Sunday morning that either Irish Honor or stakes-placed Awesome Gerry are possible for Saturday's Grade 3 Gotham.

Both 3-year-olds worked a half-mile on Sunday morning over a fast main track at Gulfstream Park with Irish Honor completing his four-furlong move in 49.60 seconds and Awesome Gerry stopping the clock in 48.83.

"They both worked this morning and one of them is possible for the Gotham," Joseph, Jr. said.

Owned by Chuck Zacney's Cash Is King Racing, LC Racing, Joseph Taylor and John Fanelli, Irish Honor was a recent three-quarter length winner of a seven-furlong allowance event against fellow Florida-breds on January 27 at Gulfstream Park. The son of third-crop sire Honor Code was a first out winner at Parx Racing, where he finished 1 ¾ lengths ahead of subsequent Jerome winner and Gotham aspirant Capo Kane.

"Irish Honor worked well. He went the last quarter in 23 and change so it was a good work. He's a horse that does what he needs to do," Joseph, Jr. said.

Saturday, March 6

Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham

50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifier

Probable: Capo Kane (Harold Wyner), Freedom Fighter (Bob Baffert), Highly Motivated (Chad Brown), Wipe The Slate (Doug O'Neill)

Possible: Awesome Gerry (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Irish Honor (Joseph, Jr.), Smiley Sobotka (Dale Romans), The Reds (John Kimmel), Weyburn (Jimmy Jerkens)

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