The Jerry Hollendorfer trained Instagrand makes his three-year-old debut on Saturday as the even money favorite in the $300,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.
After his 10 ¼ length win in the Best Pal (G2) at Santa Anita in his stakes debut it appeared he was headed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) as one of the main contenders, but his owner Larry Best of OXO Equine decided the sidelines were a better option.
The colt returns off a 6 ½ month layoff here looking to pick up points toward entry into the Run for the Roses. The Gotham is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race with 50-20-10-5 points up for grabs to the top four finishers.
Hollendorfer thinks Instagrand is ready to go off the bench.
“The workout went very nice. He went a very nice half-mile with a good gallop out. We think we have him prepared [for stretching out in distance],” said Hollendorfer. “We’re very happy to have Javier Castellano riding. I feel like our horse has speed and I think he can also rate if we have to.”
Baffert Sends Out Much Better
The other California shipper in the race is the Bob Baffert trained Much Better (10-1), who was third in the Sham (G3) and then beat first level optional claimers in his last outing.
Among the locally based runners, Mind Control (9-2) comes in off a victory in the Jerome, Haikal (6-1) won the Jimmy Winkfield and Not That Brady (5-1) was beaten just a head in the Withers (G3) in his last outing.
The Gotham is one of four stakes on an outstanding card at Aqueduct. The supporting stakes are the $250,000 Busher, $150,000 Stymie and the $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap (G3).
Saturday’s Best Plays Report will include the Road to the Kentucky Derby points races—The Gotham, Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the Jeff Ruby Steaks from Turfway Park.
Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 10 The Gotham G3 Post time 5:09 ET
5 Haikal 6-1
6 Instagrand 1-1
7 Not That Brady 5-1
4 Much Better 10-1
The colt made his stakes debut in the Jimmy Winkfield at seven furlongs. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee stalked the early pace while three wide, tucked to the inside on the far turn and was in tight for a bit and was up late to win by a neck. He caught a racing strip that was kind to speed that day. The extra furlong here should suit him. He is by Daaher out of a Distorted Humor mare that has dropped one other winner, stakes winner Takaful ($451,500). The colt just needs to see some pace in front of him here. Decent value if he goes off near his 6-1 morning line.
This highly regarded Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was put on the bench after winning his first two starts by a combined 20 ¼ lengths, the owner electing to save him for this year. The $1.2 million purchase broke his maiden by 10 lengths at Los Alamitos in his debut, then came back to win the Best Pal (G2) by 10 ¼ lengths. He has been working sharply in the mornings at Santa Anita for his return. The barn is 13% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. This looks like a good spot going a one turn mile, but his price is going to be very much on the light side.
Not That Brady
Cuts back from nine furlongs where he set the early fractions and battled on gamely in the stretch to coming up just a head short in the Withers (G3). He won the state bred Damon Runyan two back over a wet track at today’s one turn mile distance. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers and there is not a ton of early zip signed up to go in here. He will appreciate the cut back to a mile. He owns the top last out speed fig.
WIN: Haikal to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 5,6 / 4,5,6,7
TRIFECTA: 5,6 / 4,5,6,7 / 3,4,5,6,7