The Road to the Kentucky Derby goes through the Big Apple on Saturday as a field of 12 will line up in the Grade 3 $400,000 Gotham.
There are 85 points up for grabs, 50 for first, 20 for the runner up, 10 points for third, and five points for fourth place. It appears 50 points will be enough to stamp a ticket to Louisville on the first Saturday of May.
After Saturday’s Gotham there are still five races offering 50 points to the winners of major Derby preps, and then there are seven races with 100 points up for grabs to the winners.
Two entered in the Gotham are among the 23 separate betting interests in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
The Todd Pletcher trained Overanalyze, who won three of five starts as a juvenile including the Futurity (G2) and Remsen (G2) was at 41-1 on Friday in the KDFW. The colt is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Gotham.
The undefeated Vyjack, who is the second choice on the morning line at 3-1 for the Gotham is 56-1 in Pool 2 of the KDFW on Friday.
The mutuel field was at 8-5 on Friday, bet down from the 3-1 morning line. Among the separate betting interests the Pletcher trained Verrazano is the favorite at 10-1. The colt makes his stakes debut next Saturday in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
I really like Saturday’s card at the Big A. In addition to the Gotham we have a couple of Grade 2 races on tap. Summer Appeal is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the $200,000 Top Flight Handicap. The filly is looking to bounce back off a tough trip at Sam Houston last out where the saddle slipped and jockey Miguel Mena came out of the irons.
One of the trickiest races on the card is the $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap which drew a field of ten including a pair of runners shipping in from the west coast.
Peter Miller ships in Comma to the Top (G1), who is coming off a third place finish in the San Carlos (G2) in his last outing. Also shipping in from the left coast is the Bob Baffert trained Smash (7-2), who was fifth in the Vernon Underwood (G3) in his last outing on Dec. 2.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Santa Anita Park including the Grade 1 $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap.
Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 10 The Gotham G3 (5:02 ET)
8 Elnaawi 8-1
11 Overanalyze 5-2
6 Siete de Oros 15-1
9 Sky Captain 8-1
Analysis: Elnaawi is one of three in here saddled by the Kiaran McLaughlin barn and the colt is stepping up into a tough spot off a maiden score in his second career outing. The barn had this guy entered in a first level allowance race back on Feb. 9 but snow knocked out the card. He is well bred; the $500,000 purchase is by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of the stakes winner Pilfer ($126,230) who has dropped three other foals including Grade 1 winner To Honor and Serve ($1.7 million).
The colt caught off tracks in both starts, a runner up finish in his debut followed by his maiden breaker when stretched out to a mile on the inner track. The colt was bumped coming out of the gate, sent up to grab the lead and went on to win by four lengths. None of the runner he beat won next out although a couple did run second including Incognito, who missed by just a neck with an 86 Beyer. The colt has been working smartly since his maiden win and adds lasix to the mix. This guy still appears to have a ton of upside and should be a decent price in this spot.
Overanalyze is going to be the favorite here as he makes his three year old debut for the Todd Pletcher barn. The colt won three of five starts as a juvenile including the Futurity (G2) and the Remsen (G2). In his last start he edged Normandy Invasion by a nose, that runner coming back to run a troubled fifth in the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 23 at Fair Grounds. Pletcher hits at a 26% clip with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
The colt was a $380,000 Keeneland purchase, by Dixie Union out of an Unaccounted For mare that has dropped four other winners including Grade 1 stakes winner Meadow Breeze ($301,301). The colt draws a bum post but has shown enough tactical speed he should be able to overcome the short run to the first turn. The barn won this race in 2011 with Stay Thirsty.
Siete de Oros nearly pulled off the upset in the Jerome (G2) two back, coming up a head short to Vyjack at 41-1. In that race he ducked in slightly at the break, stalked the early pace from the inside, got to the lead and battled on gamely with the winner while exchanging a few bumps over a racing strip that was kind to speed that day.
He came back in the Withers (G3) where he battled for the early lead and weakened to finish third, beaten two lengths for the top spot. That day he caught a racing strip that was playing to outside stalkers and closers. It sure looks as if he can outrun his odds for the third straight time here.
WIN: #8 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 8,11 / 6,8,9,11
TRI: 8,11 / 6,8,9,11 / 6,7,8,9,11
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