2023 Gotham Stakes Contenders at Aqueduct
Gotham Stakes Offers 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby Points To Top-Five Finishers
Lugan Knight, BG Stables' Kentucky homebred, will make his graded stakes debut for trainer Michael McCarthy in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile for sophomores, at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday, March 4.
The Gotham, which attracted an overflow field, awards 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers and is carded as Race 9 on Saturday's loaded 10-race card. The program co-features the $200,000 Busher, a 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Oaks qualifier, in Race 4 and the Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap in Race 8. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.
2023 Gotham Stakes Field & Odds
Race 9 at Aqueduct on Saturday, March 4 - Post 4:56 PM
|Clear the Air
Lugan Knight, a bay son of Goldencents, enters from a triumphant stakes debut in the $150,000 Jerome on January 7 at the Big A where he bested dual graded stakes-placed Arctic Arrogance going the Gotham distance over a good main track. Lugan Knight, piloted by Dylan Davis, maintained a half-length advantage over Arctic Arrogance at each point of call before coming to even terms with his foe at the top of the lane. The pair continued to battle furiously in the stretch before Lugan Knight put his head in front and inched clear to post the half-length victory in a final time of 1:37.77.
The Jerome effort, which awarded Lugan Knight 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, came on the heels of a stalking third-place finish in his first outing against winners in a November 26 optional claiming sprint at Churchill Downs. There, he rated in fourth-of-8 five lengths off the pace before showing a good turn of foot and closing to finish third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by next-out Smarty Jones-winner Victory Formation.
"That was a new dimension for him that day," McCarthy said of the Jerome victory. "I thought his race before that at Churchill Downs looked like he got a little bit lost and distracted through the lane. When he hooked up with that horse in the Jerome, he eye-balled him the whole way down the lane. It looked like he wasn't going to let him by and he didn't."
Lugan Knight's other win was a second-out graduation in October at Keeneland sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs. Out of the Speighstown mare Sly Roxy, Lugan Knight's second dam is Roxy Gap, a multiple graded stakes-winner and dual Canadian Champion. He has banked $175,775 in total purse earnings through a record of 4-2-1-1.
Davis returns to ride from post 10.
West Coast shipper Carmel Road will make his first outing for trainer Tim Yakteen on the heels of a pacesetting second-place finish in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity on December 17 for Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert. Owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan, Carmel Road is in search of his first stakes victory in his first try at a one-turn mile.
The bay son of Quality Road set swift fractions under Juan Hernandez in the 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity, marking an opening quarter-mile in 23.61 seconds and a half-mile in 46.66 with Arabian Lion tracking in second. Carmel Road was challenged by subsequent winner Practical Move at the three-quarters call and could not fend off the 10-1 longshot, settling for second 3 1/4 lengths back.
Carmel Road's lone victory came in a dominant second-out graduation, setting the pace in a two-turn mile maiden in August at Del Mar and bounding away to an 8 3/4-length victory. He finished a close third on debut when closing from eighth-of-9 in a five-furlong maiden over the same oval.
"We typically look for the type of horse that has that breakaway speed that can control the race. But he is a horse that can sit a trip as well if he needs to," said Tom Ryan, manager of the ownership group. "He's a good-minded colt, but we wouldn't take his speed away from him if he were to break away from there. We love the one turn mile for him. We feel like it's potentially a good set up for him and we'll start from there and see if we feel he's one that can get two turns effectively [going forward]."
Eric Cancel will look to engineer a winning ride from post 5.
Two undefeated contenders with 4-for-4 records will make their graded stakes debuts by way of Parx Racing. Lynch Racing and Nick Sanna Stable's Recruiter [post 14, Angel Cruz] will make the second outing of his sophomore campaign for trainer Cathal Lynch while Imaginary Stables' Howgreatisnate [post 2, J.D. Acosta] makes his seasonal debut for conditioner Andrew Simoff.
Recruiter, a bay Army Mule colt out of the Medaglia d'Oro mare Lady Halite, enters from a strong 2 3/4-length score in the Parx Juvenile on January 3, which was originally scheduled for juveniles on December 27 but was moved to after the New Year due to weather with the condition adjusted to sophomores. Ridden to victory by Mychel Sanchez, Recruiter rated in fourth one length from the pace and pounced to the lead in mid-turn, drawing away down the stretch to cross the wire first in a final time of 1:26.75 over the sloppy and sealed track.
The Parx Juvenile was the first time Recruiter had rated from farther back than second, his other three victories coming in front-running fashion. Lynch said he is confident Recruiter can be effective in either a pacesetting or stalking position as he makes his first start beyond sprint distances.
"He's out of a Medaglia d'Oro mare and he's very quick, but he doesn't need the lead - he just happened to be on the lead in a couple of his races," said Lynch.
Recruiter's four victories have come at three different racetracks and four different distances, beginning with a debut score sprinting five furlongs in August at Monmouth Park. He followed with a 1 3/4-length coup sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs to best winners in an October optional claimer at Laurel Park before earning his first stakes victory in the six-furlong James F. Lewis, III in November over the same oval.
Recruiter has worked steadily over the Fair Hill dirt training track, posting a series of five and seven-furlong works since his Parx Juvenile victory. He most recently breezed five-eighths in 1:01.20 on Thursday.
"He's done everything right so far," said Lynch. "We've shipped him all over and he doesn't need to run on any one track. He has no problem jumping on the van and going to race somewhere. He's very straightforward and we're very fortunate. He acts like a really nice horse, so fingers crossed that he runs well there. He's earned the chance and we don't like to go up there unless they act like they're legit enough to do it."
Recruiter is cross-entered in the Rittenhouse Square on Monday at Parx Racing.
Howgreatisnate, a Kentucky-bred son of Speightster, was last seen posting a 3 1/2-length victory in the six-furlong Future Stars on December 5 at Parx in similar fashion to Recruiter's Parx Juvenile win. The bay gelding tracked in fourth position under regular pilot J.D. Acosta and pounced to the lead at the stretch call before drawing off to victory in a final time of 1:12.07 over a fast Parx main track.
Three of Howgreatisnate's four victories have come at six furlongs, except for his winning debut when taking a 5 1/2-furlong $40,000 maiden claimer in August at Delaware Park. He followed that effort with his first stakes victory in September in the First State Dash, a sprint restricted to Delaware-bred or certified juveniles at the Wilmington oval.
Klaravich Stables' debut maiden winner Uncorrelated [post 4, Manny Franco] makes his first stakes appearance for four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Chad Brown on the heels of a professional 2 1/2-length victory on January 6 over a sloppy and sealed Big A main track. The son of Arrogate tracked in fourth one length off the pace under Manny Franco and pounced to the lead at the half-mile call, maintaining his advantage at each point of call and completing the six furlongs in a final time of 1:12.35. The effort garnered a 69 Beyer.
Uncorrelated has worked over the Belmont training track six times since the victory, most recently covering a half-mile in 50.88 seconds on Friday.
"It's a big step up for him and it took him a little time to recover from that maiden race, but in his last couple of works, he's got his energy back and he looks OK," said Brown. "We'll give it a shot."
Completing the field are graded stakes-placed General Banker [post 6, Frankie Pennington]; Eyeing Clover [post 13, Florent Geroux] and Transect [post 7, Joe Talamo], who are both undefeated through two starts; Grade 2-placed Fort Warren [post 8, Jevian Toledo]; Jimmy Winkfield runner-up Clubhouse [post 9, Kendrick Carmouche]; dual stakes-placed Raise Cain [post 12, Jose Lezcano]; and maiden winners Clear the Air [post 1, Jack Gilligan], Mr. Swagger [post 3, Carlos Olivero], who adds blinkers, and Slip Mahoney [post 11, Trevor McCarthy]. Radio Red [Jose Gomez] is listed as an also-eligible.
Fort Warren is cross-entered in Monday's City of Brotherly Love at Parx while Clear the Air is listed as an also-eligible in Saturday's John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park.
Slip Mahoney looking for Kentucky Derby points in Gotham
FEB 26 - Gold Square's impressive maiden winner Slip Mahoney posted his final breeze in preparation for Saturday's one-mile Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, covering a half-mile in 48.87 seconds yesterday over the Belmont Park dirt training track.
The Gotham is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and awards the top-five finishers 50-20-15-10-5 qualifying points, respectively, towards the prestigious Grade 1 test on the First Saturday in May.
Slip Mahoney, a grey son of 2016 Champion 3-Year-Old Colt Arrogate, was guided by jockey Trevor McCarthy through the work and went in company with unraced stablemate Global Image, a Liam's Map colt who sold for $300,000 at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.
"It wasn't as quick to watch it, but they moved pretty well," said Dustin Dugas, Cox's Belmont-based assistant. "It was really good and he came out of it in great shape and we're all systems go. Trevor was happy with him and he's going to ride him Saturday."
Slip Mahoney was last seen posting a determined head victory at third asking in a January 21 maiden going the Gotham distance at the Big A. There, he was piloted by Dylan Davis and battled Fast Boat to Skye for the early lead before that foe retreated and the Kendrick Carmouche-piloted Crupi rallied from sixth-of-10 to challenge for the lead at the top of the lane. The pair quickly drew away from the rest of their rivals and dueled furiously down the lane until Slip Mahoney put his head down at the wire to secure the win. It was a further 15 lengths back to third-place finisher Good Rapport.
Slip Mahoney's victory came on the heels of a game runner-up effort to next-out allowance victor Tapit Trice on December 17 over the same distance and course.
"He showed personal growth and mentally and physically, he's one that's still figuring things out," Dugas said of his progression between starts. "He plays around a lot and still needs to mature, but right now, he's just doing it off of raw talent. He's getting there, and with each breeze, you can see him mature. He's not regressing and doing things proper."
A $150,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Slip Mahoney is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning mare Got Lucky, who won the 2015 Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland. He is a half-brother to the multiple graded stakes-placed gelding Overtook and is a direct maternal descendant of Reine-de-Course mare Numbered Account.
Cox is also likely to send out Ten Strike Racing's undefeated Eyeing Clover in the Gotham on the heels of a dominant 9 3/4-length optional claiming coup on January 28 at Fair Grounds Race Course. The son of Lookin At Lucky has trained regularly at the New Orleans oval since and is expected to arrive at Belmont Park on Tuesday.
G3 Gotham Probables - [offering 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points]
Probable: Arctic Arrogance [Linda Rice], Carmel Road [Tim Yakteen], Clubhouse [Todd Pletcher], Eyeing Clover [Brad Cox], Howgreatisnate [Andrew Simoff], Lugan Knight [Michael McCarthy], Recruiter [Cathal Lynch], Slip Mahoney [Cox], Transect [Paulo Lobo]
Possible: Fort Warren [Brittany Russell]
Recruiter looks to remain undefeated in Grade 3 Gotham Stakes
FEB 23 - Trainer Cathal Lynch and Nick Sanna Stables' undefeated Recruiter will test deeper waters in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile test for sophomores that awards 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers, on March 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Recruiter, a dark bay son of 2018 Grade 1 Carter Handicap-winner Army Mule, will make both his graded stakes debut and first start beyond sprint distances on the heels of an off-the-pace victory in the seven-furlong Parx Juvenile on January 3 at Parx Racing.
Ridden by Mychel Sanchez, Recruiter stalked one length from the pace in fourth through the first quarter-mile before challenging pacesetter Winning Time at the half-mile call and inching clear at the top of the stretch to come home a 2 3/4-length winner in a final time of 1:26.75.
"Mychel kept him just off the pace and he finished up well for us," said Lynch, who trained El Areeb to a third-place finish in the 2017 Gotham following scores in the Grade 3 Jerome and Grade 3 Withers at the Big A. "If you can ship them to Parx, I think you can ship anywhere because that track can be pretty tricky."
Recruiter is undefeated in four starts, stretching out in each outing after a debut victory sprinting five furlongs in August at Monmouth Park. He followed with a wire-to-wire score when facing winners for the first time in a 5 1/2-furlong October optional claimer at Laurel Park before earning his first stakes triumph in the six-furlong James F. Lewis, III in November over the same oval.
Lynch said Recruiter has responded well to longer breezes at Fair Hill, where he regularly posts five and seven-furlong works over the dirt. He most recently breezed five-eighths in 1:01.20 on Thursday.
"He worked good here Thursday and that is probably his last work before he runs," said Lynch. "We may pop him out of the gate on Tuesday. I have worked him seven-eighths and a mile in between races, and I don't think distance is going to be a problem."
Recruiter first impressed Lynch at last year's OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, but was scratched and re-entered in the company's June sale.
There, he breezed an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds flat and was bought by Lynch for $125,000 from the consignment of Wavertree Stables.
"He fell into our price range, so we took a shot," said Lynch. "He's a beautiful-bodied horse, well-balanced, and has a nice walk. He worked well and we got a little value for our money. We've had a few Army Mules and they all can run. We're very happy with them and a lot of my guys are looking to breed their mares back to Army Mule because of him [Recruiter]."
Bred in Florida by Beth Bayer, Recruiter is out of the winning Medaglia d'Oro mare Lady Halite. His second dam, the stakes-placed Ada's Dream, is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Buffalo Man. Recruiter has amassed $170,100 in earnings through his perfect 4-for-4 record.
Carmel Road on target for G3 Gotham
FEB 23 - Graded stakes-placed Carmel Road will seek to prove his Kentucky Derby credentials when shipping to the East Coast for the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham going a one-turn mile on March 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Carmel Road, a bay son of Champion-producing stallion Quality Road, was last seen finishing second traveling 1 1/16-miles in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity on December 17.
He graduated with a frontrunning score at second asking in August going a two-turn mile at Del Mar, building on his advantage through every point of call and strolling home an 8 3/4-length winner for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Now trained by Tim Yakteen, Carmel Road will be making his sophomore debut in the Gotham which offers 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby points to the top-five finishers. He is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan.
Carmel Road has fired bullets in his last two works, most recently going five furlongs in 59 seconds flat on Monday at Santa Anita.
"He worked very well last week and came out of it well," said Tom Ryan, who manages the ownership group. "Last week's work made everyone pay attention. He cruised down there hard held and wanted to gallop out even further. He's a horse that's feeling great at the moment and this is the time of the year that you want your 3-year-olds to be doing well. The plans are firm at the moment that he will run in the Gotham as long as he's in good shape."
Bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, Carmel Road was bought for $650,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He is out of the multiple stakes-winning Unbridled's Song mare Inspired.
Inspired is a half-sister to the Medaglia d'Oro mare Treasure - the dam of dual Grade 1-placed sophomore National Treasure. Coincidentally, National Treasure is owned by the same partnership as Carmel Road and could also be targeting Derby points in next Saturday's Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita.
"National Treasure is out of a Medaglia d'Oro mare and you can see that in him. This one is a little more compact at this time," Ryan said. "Both are beautifully balanced and well-made colts. We have loads of confidence in them both."
A frontrunning victor on debut in September at Del Mar, National Treasure finished second in the Grade 1 American Pharoah the following month at Santa Anita before completing the trifecta in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November at Keeneland.
Ryan also mentioned the Gotham as a possible landing spot for graded stakes-placed Fort Warren, who recently joined the barn of Maryland-based conditioner Brittany Russell. The bay son of Curlin was a pacesetting first-out winner on October 30 at Santa Anita, defeating next-out winner Spun Intended by a half-length. He then completed the trifecta in the seven-furlong Grade 2 San Vicente on January 29 at the Southern California oval.
Ryan said Fort Warren's Gotham status will depend on how he works this weekend with the seven-furlong Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore on April 8 at the Big A also under consideration.
"He needs to tout himself and tell us that he's ready," Ryan said. "If he is, we'll take a look. If not, we'll look at the Bay Shore."
Fort Warren was bought for $550,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is out of the graded-stakes placed Bernardini mare La Appassionata - a full-sister to graded stakes winner Wilburn.
Lugan Knight remains on schedule for G3 Gotham
FEB 23 - Trainer Michael McCarthy reported that BG Stables' Kentucky homebred Lugan Knight is training forwardly towards his anticipated engagement in next Saturday's Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile for sophomores at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Gotham is the penultimate local prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and awards the top-five finishers points based off a 50-20-15-10-5 scale.
Lugan Knight, a bay son of Goldencents, will return to the site of his last conquest, where he displayed grit and determination to capture the $150,000 Jerome on January 7 going the Gotham distance.
He broke sharply under Dylan Davis and set a good early tempo with Arctic Arrogance to his outside in second down the backstretch. The pair continued to battle down the stretch with Arctic Arrogance inching closer to even terms. But Lugan Knight had enough in the tank to ward off the challenge, and captured his stakes debut by a half-length while registering a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure.
Lugan Knight's Jerome victory earned him 10 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, where he is currently 17th.
Lugan Knight has been training with McCarthy's division at Churchill Downs Trackside Training Center, recording a five-furlong bullet on in 59.80 Sunday.
"His last work was a pretty serious work. It was kind of what we were looking for," McCarthy said. "He'll have another maintenance work this coming weekend and he'll be ready to make his way to Aqueduct."
Lugan Knight was a half-length winner at second asking in October going 6 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland before finishing third to Victory Formation - winner of the next-out Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park - in a six-furlong allowance optional claimer in November at Churchill Downs.
Despite already etching his name on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Lugan Knight is not a sure aspirant for the Run for the Roses.
"We're taking it one race at a time, we'll see what he does in the Gotham. We're concentrated on that right now," McCarthy said.
Lugan Knight is the first progeny out of the Speightstown mare Sly Roxy, whose dam is multiple Canadian Champion Roxy Gap, a multiple graded-stakes winner.
Eyeing Clover targets 2023 Gotham (G3)
FEB 19 - Ten Strike Racing's co-managing partner Marshall Gramm is hopeful that two-time winning sophomore Eyeing Clover can make his presence known on the Kentucky Derby trail when targeting the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham on March 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The one-turn mile Gotham is the penultimate local prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and awards the top-five finishers points based off a 50-20-15-10-5 scale.
Eyeing Clover was a debut winner sprinting six furlongs on New Year's Eve at Oaklawn Park before shipping to Fair Grounds Race Course and defeating winners going the same distance on January 28 by 9 3/4 lengths. He is trained Brad Cox, who captured the most recent local qualifier when Gary and Mary West's Hit Show won the Grade 3 Withers on February 4.
According to Gramm, who manages Ten Strike Racing alongside Clay Sanders, a strong run in the Gotham would likely warrant a return to Oaklawn Park for the nine-furlong Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 1 - a 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifier.
"The core of our partners are Arkansans and we wanted to use this step towards the Arkansas Derby. That's a race we'd really love to win and participate in," Gramm said. "For us, the dream race is the Arkansas Derby and the Gotham seems like a good stepping stone for it. We didn't want to quite jump up from an allowance to first time routing in the [Grade 2] Rebel [at Oaklawn Park] next week from a timing standpoint and that race looks really tough. But the Gotham looks like it could be a really competitive race as well."
Bred by Mike Abraham, Eyeing Clover, by Lookin At Lucky, is out of the Forest Wildcat mare Floral Park, which makes him a half-brother to graded stakes winning female sprinter Heavenhasmynikki.
"We've been huge Lookin At Lucky fans and we think this one is going to get better as the distances get longer, though his female family is fairly sprint-based," Gramm said. "We're excited about coming to New York for the Gotham and excited about the horse's future. They bred a speedy female family to Looking At Lucky and it's given us an early developer. We have every reason to believe based on the sire that he should improve going longer and we hope the Gotham is that first step towards the Arkansas Derby."
Gramm mentioned Ten Strike Racing's New York-bred mare Lucky Move as an example of a Lookin At Lucky offspring that took some time to mature. Lucky Move did not win her first stakes until she was a 6-year-old, capturing the Empire Distaff and Bay Ridge on the NYRA circuit. Ten Strike Racing claimed Lucky Move for $30,000 from a one-mile turf event in April 2019 at Churchill Downs.
"It took her a while to break her maiden and she won her a-other-than as a 5-year-old and won stakes races at six, but it was a long time coming," Gramm said. "What makes Eyeing Clover so attractive is that he's an early-maturing Lookin At Lucky."
Gramm credited bloodstock agent Liz Crow, who also serves as Ten Strike Racing's stable manager, for selecting Eyeing Clover for $55,000 out of the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
"We've been working with Liz and she buys all of our yearlings and 2-year-olds. This was one that really jumped out at her," Gramm said. "It was a fast-looking Lookin At Lucky and she knew our affinity for the stallion and loved the female family as well. Hopefully, putting those two together can put us on the trail."
Eyeing Clover will likely not be the only Gotham aspirant for Cox, who could also send out regally-bred maiden winner Slip Mahoney. Owned by Gold Square, Slip Mahoney, by Arrogate and out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Got Lucky, worked five furlongs in 1:01 over the Belmont Park training track on Saturday.
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