Brian’s back this week with a look at tomorrow’s Gotham at Aqueduct. If your thoughts are on the West Coast, you can check out his preview of the pre-re-scheduled Sham.
And if you’ve got any Gotham or Sham runners in your Road to the Roses stable, don’t forget to activate power horses before tomorrow’s deadline.
On to Brian’s preview of the Gotham:
The road to April’s Grade I Wood Memorial gets serious as the Gotham offers up $250,000 in graded stakes money for a 10-pack of 3-year-olds looking to make a name for themselves. They’ve come from all corners of the globe to show they belong with the best of their generation, and the race offers up a fascinating handicapping puzzle. Let’s take a look. –Brian Nadeau
Aqueduct: The Grade III, $250,000 Gotham at 1 1/16 miles (inner dirt)
1. Three Day Rush: Improving sort got caught up in the mess that was Eightyfiveinafifty in the Whirlaway, and as a result, he had to chase the pace instead of being right off it. All things considered, he ran credibly in his two-turn debut, though it was a five-horse field and one of them tried to become a hurdle horse on the first turn, so in reality he only beat one home. Drew nicely and he’s probably going to use his early speed this time, just not sure he’s this good; mixed signals in this corner.
2. Yawanna Twist: Don’t get caught thinking this 2-for-2 colt is a pretender of a NYB who’s biting off more than he can chew in here, because his two local romps have been eye-catching to say the least. Gets the two-turn test and dad was definitely better suited to the 7-furlong game, but he gets a lot of staying power on the dam’s side. Takes the logical next progression, and his natural speed should have him sitting in a nice spot just off what projects as a very honest pace; with a nod to all this hockey talk the past week, he gets the call to post the Hat Trick.
3. Nacho Friend: The wildcard makes his first start since last summer’s Sanford and also his first two-turn start. Worth noting he did win off works in his debut and Breen probably has him ready to roll, but it’s asking a lot to win this tough assignment. With his sprint speed he could be close to the pace, but not expecting he’s around at the finish; stop and pop effort seems on tap.
4. Awesome Act: European runner returns to the U.S. for the first time since his solid run in the BC Juvenile Turf, where he was a closing fourth after a wide run. Makes his main track debut with hopes of joining the Derby Trail, and trainer Noseda has said all along the surface switch should only help this well-bred colt’s chances. He must be a good talker, as he’s got Leparoux in for the ride, but when it’s all said and done, this son of Awesome Again only has a maiden win to his credit; talking a wait and see approach.
5. I’ve Got The Fever: After chasing some toughies, the blinkers went on and he looked like a different horse running off to a fast maiden win here last month. Steps right up and wheels back on two weeks rest off that breakthrough run, but why not, we know these 3yos can jump up and improve overnight. The hood put him on the pace last time, but it’s unlikely he’s faster than some of his rivals here, so he might have to show he can stalk and run by a horse, which hasn’t been his strong suit up until now; respect his last, but making him prove it wasn’t a fluke.
6. Peppi Knows: The Whirlaway winner benefited when ‘Eightyfive redlined it to the first turn, but even so, this gelding ran quite well in what was his 3yo debut. And it’s never a bad thing to have a course and distance win as well, so you need to think twice before dismissing him. The waters obviously get a bit deeper, but you’re also allowed to think that he might post another mild surprise; in the mix.
7. Shrimp Dancer: Had every chance to win a pair of local state-bred allowances and simply could not get the job done in the lane, so it’s ambitious to think he can threaten in this tough spot. Blinkers have given him a hint of tactical speed so he should be in a good spot turning for home, just not expecting him to punch it in through the lane; passing.
8. Turf Melody: AMEX would be in trouble if this Motion runner ever turned in his frequent flyer miles, as he’s been all over the country since his Del Park debut last spring. Scratched out of a GP one-turn spot last week to run here, and if he runs back to his win at Remington Park two-back, he can at least get in the discussion. Still, that run seems a little fluky because he really got set up behind a wicked pace and even though it should be honest here, it probably won’t be fast enough to aid his late rally; not seeing it.
9. Afleet Again: Made a nice little move in the lane to get up for second in the Whirlaway on a day when speed held, so at least you know he’s going in the right direction. Has the right to sit a dream trip behind the pace players and get first run on the closers, so if he’s your guy you could do a lot worse than this improving runner who will offer value; not out of this in the least.
10. Wow Wow Wow: Talented colt just can’t seem to get a break from the draw this year and the trend continues with the 10-hole in his graded stakes debut. When his mind is on running, he’s a pretty formidable foe, and I’m wondering if they finally gave up on rating him because he sure likes to hear his feet rattle on the engine. Nice to see Nakatani come in for the mount and with this draw, you know they’re sending him from the get-go. There’s other speed signed on but it’s well to his inside, so if he’s allowed to make the point and run the others off their feet, the inner dirt’s speed crazy profile might do some wonders for him in the lane; interesting at a price.
2. Yawanna Twist
10. Wow Wow Wow
9. Afleet Again
Check out Brian’s handicapping for NYRA races at horseplayernow.com. He’ll be participating in “Countdown to the Crown” live chats every Friday at 2 pm, accessible from the main page of the site, chatting for an hour about anything and everything for three year olds.