Road to Derby: El Kabeir Seeking to Rebound in Gotham


A field of 10 will be gunning for Derby points in the $400,000 Gotham at Aqueduct (Photo credit:

The John Terranova trained El Kabeir is looking to rebound after being the beaten favorite last out in a runner up finish in the Withers (G3) when he takes on nine foes in the $400,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.

The Gotham is one of three Derby points races on tap on Saturday along with the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs and the $400,000 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita.

In addition, the rescheduled $200,000 Swale (G2) takes place at Gulfstream Park, a starting point for the highly regarded Daredevil. The Todd Pletcher trainee makes his first start since a troubled 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

The colt won last fall’s Champagne (G1) and continues to take some action in early Kentucky Derby betting, currently at odds of 20-1 at Bovada.

Pletcher could have a big day, starting three in the Gotham and also Carpe Diem is a major player in the Tampa Bay Derby, making his first start since a third place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

There are plenty of other stakes on tap including the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (G1), with Shared Belief heading a 13-horse field.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include as much of the stakes action I and your toner cartridge can handle.

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

8 Tencendur   8-1

4 El Kabeir   8-5

3 Classy Class   7-2

1 Dontbetwithbrno / 1a Uninfluenced / Blame Jim   5-1

Tencendur is one of three in here exiting the Withers (G3). The colt was making his first start against winners after breaking his maiden against state breds and was overlooked on the tote at 30-1. He stalked the early pace while wide much of the trip and finished evenly in a fourth place finish. The racing strip that day was kind to inside speed.

The George Weaver trainee has moved forward with each start and his last outing was his first over a fast track. Blinkers go on and he sports a couple of bullet works on the morning tab since his last outing. He is a half to stakes winner Mother Russia ($528,966).  The colt will need another move forward, but figures to be a generous price in this spot.

El Kabeir dueled for the early lead and was no match for Far From Away in deep stretch, the winner getting off poorly and spotting the field five or six lengths and then coming up the rail for the win. The John Terranova trainee came into the race off wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Jerome (G3) and sent off as the chalk last out.

I have a hunch today the strategy may be to try and lay off the pace and not get mixed up early with Classy Class again. If that happens, he should get a good tracking trip just off the pace. Despite the loss last out his speed, figs have been consistent over the last three starts. That makes him a player here but if that is his top, he is going to have trouble competing on the first Saturday of May.

Classy Class battled for the early lead in the Withers and weakened inside the final furlong to finish third, beaten a length by El Kabeir for the runner up spot. He made two starts last year, breaking his maiden in his debut and dueling for the early lead and weakening to finish fourth in the Remsen (G3) going nine furlongs on the main track here.

In the Remsen, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee pressed the early pace from the three path on a day the inner paths and speed was strong. Her makes his second start off a 2 ½ month break and still may have some upside.


WIN: Tencendur to win at 9-2 or better.

EXACTA: 4,8 / 1,3,4,8

TRIFECTA: 4,8 / 1,3,4,8 / 1,3,4,5,8


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