A field of eight line up in Saturday’s $400,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct, with 85 Derby points up for grabs toward entry into the Run for the Roses.
The top four finishers earn 50-20-10-5 points as a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, but it looks as if the points are not urgent for Sunny Ridge (7-2) who is coming off a victory in the Withers. His connections are looking past the Kentucky Derby to the second and third jewel of the Triple Crown.
“The game plan right now is skip the Derby, run in the Preakness and Belmont, give him a break, and then run in the Haskell,” said Sunny Ridge’s owner Dennis Drazin. “Everyone wants to know what’s next, but first he’s got to run on Saturday.”
If you think his connections might get Derby fever with a big effort in the Withers, the colt is currently listed at +4500 at Mybookie.ag in early Kentucky Derby wagering.
The Withers drew a solid field including the promising Shagaf (3-1), who is perfect in two starts and makes his stakes debut for trainer Chad Brown.
Conquest Big A (6-1) had the misfortune of running into Derby favorite Mohaymen when fourth in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park in his last outing. It will be interesting to see how he does, with a big performance flattering Mohaymen, who has been getting hammered in early Derby wagering, down to +275 at Mybookie.ag.
I will have full card reports for both Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park for Saturday along with my Best Plays Report.
Let’s head out to the Big A for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 9 The Gotham G3 Post time 4:50 ET
6 Conquest Big E 6-1
2 Shagaf 3-1
7 Sunny Ridge 7-2
8 Rally Cry 5-1
Conquest Big E was bumped coming out of the gate, stalked the early pace and finished evenly in a fourth place finish in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, beaten nine lengths by Kentucky Derby (G1) betting favorite Mohaymen, who returned to win the Fountain of Youth (G2) in his next outing last Saturday.
The colt figures to move forward in his second start of his three-year-old campaign and he looks as if he is going to be a fair price. The $700,000 Keeneland purchase is by Tapit out of a Carson City mare that has dropped one other winner, stakes winner Aquapazza ($131,577).
Shagaf turned some heads with an impressive maiden score on the main track here in his debut last November at a mile, drawing away to win by six lengths. The runner up It’s All Relevant came back to graduate in his next outing on Jan. 15 by 8 ½ lengths and then was eighth in the Risen Star (G2).
He then beat first level optional claimers in his first go against winners, winning by two lengths but we saw his Beyer drop 10 points. I still think this guy has plenty of upside and should have no problem handling his first trip around two turns. He has a nice pedigree, by Bernardini out of the stakes winner Muhaawara ($131,297).
Sunny Ridge prompted the early pace and finished gamely to win the Withers (G3) last out in his first start off a two-month break. The last two winners of this race came out of the Withers. He ran well over wet tracks two and three back, missing in the Delta Jackpot (G3) by a neck and was second in the Champagne (G1).
The colt owns a solid pace profile throughout and is proven on the inner track. This guy looks primed for a top effort here but his price seems likely to be less than the 7-2 morning line.
WIN: Conquest Big A to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 2,6 / 2,6,7,8
TRIFECTA: 2,6 / 2,6,7,8 / 2,3,6,7,8
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