Brian’s Derby Preps: The Gotham (and a charity league update)

Week 1 of the Brooklyn Backstretch Kentucky Derby charity league is in the books, and we might already have a whiff of scandal…created by yours truly.

But before we get to that…we’ve got pledges from 28 people for a total of $1,845, with some of that money already having come in. As I wrote in my e-mail to the contributors, their generosity is stupendous. Thanks to everyone who’s playing.

Our leaderboard is on view here, and the amazing Mike Dorr is responsible for all the record-keeping and data-compiling–wherever he finishes in our league, I’ll be making a $75 donation, apart from the winner’s donation, to the racing charity of his choice.

So yes, look who’s there, atop the leaderboard, with a bunch of horses whose names she didn’t record in the comments here. I posted my picks, changed my mind, filled in the document, and then never changed them here, but I swear to you that they were in well in advance of our deadline last Saturday (and I can apparently prove that with Google timestamps, because of course I can, because Google knows everything).

But fear not, skeptics: I’m playing for bragging rights only. As I noted in 2010, it would be unseemly for the game’s organizer to also be the game’s winner, so even in the oh-so-unlikely event that I don’t plummet like Humpty Dumpty to the bottom over the next few weeks, the donation and the choice will go to someone else.

And seriously, if you have concerns, I’m also happy to just withdraw altogether…we run a clean shop here, and your generosity deserves an unblemished faith in what we do.

Now, on to this weekend, and Brian Nadeau’s analysis of this weekend’s sole Derby prep. If you were paying attention last week, you know that he missed the winner of the Fountain of Youth by just a nose and called the winner of the Risen Star.

Aqueduct: The Grade III, $500,000 Gotham at 1 1/16 miles, by Brian Nadeau of Horseplayer Now

#2 In Trouble: Undefeated juvenile was perfect in two starts but gets thrown right to the wolves in his first start at 3 in what is one heck of an ambitious placing by Tony D. Son of Tiz Wonderful sure looked good winning Belmont’s GII Futurity when last seen in September and is bred for the added ground, but it’s a big ask considering that he’s never been past 6 furlongs, either. Tactical sort sprinting could find himself on the lead here, as he chased some hot splits as a juvenile and might be keyed up and/or forced to go from this rail draw, which is another thing that doesn’t really bode well for his chances. His talent is evident, and his name is worth remembering, but this is one giant ask against some salty foes off just two sprint races and a five-month layoff; tabbing for down the road.

#3 Financial Mogul: Tricky read got caught in Cairo Prince’s wake in his 3-year-old debut in Gulfstream Park’s GII Holy Bull in January but should like the company today and figures to be a tighter customer today for Violette, as that run was his first in 11 weeks. It’s also worth noting that was his first two-turn start, so he can certainly build off that run and his juvenile form was solid (if unspectacular), which gives him a license to play with these. On the face of it, this son of Street Boss is not quite fast enough to get his picture taken, but with that tightener out of the way, a cozy rail draw and a closing style in a race filled with speed, there’s no reason he can’t wake up and get a piece; intriguing underneath.

#4 Uncle Sigh: Tremendously talented NY-bred son of Indian Charlie took all the worst of it when he was second to likely favorite Samraat in the local GIII Withers last time, but he lost nothing in defeat, as he was pressed from the inside the entire way by the winner and only relented in deep stretch, while some 10 ¼ lengths clear of the rest. That was also his first start against winners, so there’s no doubt that he handled himself quite nicely for Contessa, who has been firing both here and in Florida all season long. But now here comes the rub, as it looks like he’s once again going to have a rough trip, as either the inside speed with Samraat glued to him from his outside, or caught in a sandwich chasing ‘Trouble with the big horse still lapped on. So either way you shake it up, it spells trouble for a horse with a ton of potential who has been snakebitten by the draw in his last two; tread lightly if he’s your guy,

#1 Noble Cornerstone: Lightly raced NY-bred is coupled in the wagering with Samraat, which kills any potential value you were hoping for on a runner who was a wise-guy horse exiting his 2-year-old campaign but beaten a furlong as the heavy favorite in Tampa Bay Downs’ GIII Sam Davis in his 3-year-old debut for Ward. Dig a bit deeper, though, and you’ll see this son of Noble Causeway ran with  blinkers off in the Davis and has them back on today, which bodes well for a horse who ran quite fast in two strong runs as a juvenile with the hood on. You also have to think he didn’t handle that quirky Tampa surface, as he was out the back soon after the start, which was a stark contrast to the tactical speed he showed at 2, so there’s no reason to think he can’t bounce back and run well here; not a bad Robin to Samraat’s Batman.

#5 Monopolize: The first of three from Pletcher needs to wake up in a hurry as he exits a disappointing run in a sharp GP optional claimer in January behind Top Billing, who was a good third against the bias there in last Saturday’s GII Fountain of Youth. Son of Bernardini adds blinkers today, cost a cool half million as a 2-year-old in training and is a local two-turn winner, so there are a few things in his favor, though on paper he’s about 15 lengths behind the heavyweights here; not seeing it.

#6 Deceived: Yet another talented NY-bred steps up and into open company for the first time off a romping 8 ¼-length optional claiming win going two turns here in January but has some 19 ½ lengths to make up on Samraat, who vanquished him two-back in the Damon Runyon. Son of Street Boss is in good hands with Gyarmati, who has done a stellar job with a talented group of sophomores for Treadway Racing, but there’s no doubt that this is asking a lot of a horse who is open lengths behind these on paper. His tactical style figures to ensure a good trip, but it’s hard to envision him doing anything but blinking when the real running begins; tough to tout.

#7 Classic Giacnroll: Hard-knocker has made his niche running underneath in a slew of stakes the past few months, but the bloom came off the rose a bit in the Withers, when he was poised off the Samraat-Uncle Sigh duel but was a flat and well-beaten fourth for Guerrero. Son of Derby winner Giacomo forges on and figures to once again trip out nicely, but with the two big guns back and slew of new, talented contenders, you have to think he might have hit his ceiling a few races back, when he was a good second to the talented Noble Moon in the local GII Jerome. If you still believe, then the price will be right and much bigger than you’re accustomed to, but that’s simply because up to this point he’s done nothing to indicate that he can he can put a scare into a group like this; playing against.

#1a Samraat: The big horse blew through a trio of NY-bred races by a combined 25 ¾ lengths but sure got a test in the Withers, when he got all the best of it dueling outside of Uncle Sigh before prevailing late. You have to be impressed with the moxie this son of Noble Causeway showed that day, when he finally got in a fight and was clearly the better horse at the end. The waters no doubt get deeper today, as there are plenty of hungry new shooters and his buddy ‘Sigh has every right to be a tougher customer,  too, but once again he drew perfectly, as he can be placed right outside the abundance of speed to his inside, which will really help his chances. Streaking runner has moved his game to a new level since getting two turns for Violette, and with this nice attack post and a pair of wins over the local oval, there’s little doubt that he’s the one to beat, though let’s keep searching for a bit more value; backwheel time.

#8 Extrasexyhippzster: Talk about versatile: this son of Stroll has done it all in five starts for Trombetta, winning the minor Don Rickles here sprinting in January, then stretching out and winning Laurel’s one-turn Miracle Wood at a mile three weeks later. He tackles the two-turn test for the first time today but is bred for the trip and has handled everything they’ve asked so far, so it’s tough to think he’s out of his element here. Of course, this is a huge rise in class for a horse who has been beating second and third-tier runners in his last two and makes his graded stakes debut today. There’s talent here to be sure, but he might get bet hard and on paper, his 4-1 ML makes him an underlay in the wake of the bigger names in here; trying to keep him out of the money.

#9 Master Lightning: The second from Pletcher likely rates as the longest shot on the board (yes, you read that correctly) after dismal runs in the Jerome and Miracle Wood, where he never threatened when the real running began. If you’re looking for positives, it would be that this son of Pulpit does own a local two-turn win and gets the services of Velasquez, who is as good as they come here in the winter, so at least there are a few things to hang your hat on. Of course, his recent form leaves a lot to be desired and this is by far the toughest group he’s seen to date; easy toss.

#10 Harpoon: The last of the Pletcher trio is by far the most accomplished of the group as he was beaten just a nose by his perfect-trip, winning stablemate Vinceremos in the Davis when last seen, after an extremely wide stretch run. Son of Tapit has shed the bridesmaid label in his last pair and has looked like a different horse since the blinkers came off, which allowed him to settle a bit better early on. It’s also worth noting that he could have easily stayed in Florida and run back in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he would have been about 5-2, yet here he is, some 1,100 miles north, over a track he’s never been over, taking a swing at a gaudy 500k purse. Point being, that’s a lot of confidence for a trainer that seldom makes the wrong move (he scratched Vinceremos at GP the same day to run in the Davis) and arrives here with a horse who is on the upswing, has the right stalking style in a race loaded with speed and will offer plenty of value to boot; look out.

Selections:

#10 Harpoon

#1a Samraat

#3 Financial Mogul

 

Aqueduct: The Grade III, $500,000 Gotham at 1 1/16 miles, by Brian Nadeau of Horseplayer Now

#2 In Trouble: Undefeated juvenile was perfect in two starts but gets thrown right to the wolves in his first start at 3 in what is one heck of an ambitious placing by Tony D. Son of Tiz Wonderful sure looked good winning Belmont’s GII Futurity when last seen in September and is bred for the added ground, but it’s a big ask considering that he’s never been past 6 furlongs, either. Tactical sort sprinting could find himself on the lead here, as he chased some hot splits as a juvenile and might be keyed up and/or forced to go from this rail draw, which is another thing that doesn’t really bode well for his chances. His talent is evident, and his name is worth remembering, but this is one giant ask against some salty foes off just two sprint races and a five-month layoff; tabbing for down the road.

#3 Financial Mogul: Tricky read got caught in Cairo Prince’s wake in his 3-year-old debut in Gulfstream Park’s GII Holy Bull in January but should like the company today and figures to be a tighter customer today for Violette, as that run was his first in 11 weeks. It’s also worth noting that was his first two-turn start, so he can certainly build off that run and his juvenile form was solid (if unspectacular), which gives him a license to play with these. On the face of it, this son of Street Boss is not quite fast enough to get his picture taken, but with that tightener out of the way, a cozy rail draw and a closing style in a race filled with speed, there’s no reason he can’t wake up and get a piece; intriguing underneath.

#4 Uncle Sigh: Tremendously talented NY-bred son of Indian Charlie took all the worst of it when he was second to likely favorite Samraat in the local GIII Withers last time, but he lost nothing in defeat, as he was pressed from the inside the entire way by the winner and only relented in deep stretch, while some 10 ¼ lengths clear of the rest. That was also his first start against winners, so there’s no doubt that he handled himself quite nicely for Contessa, who has been firing both here and in Florida all season long. But now here comes the rub, as it looks like he’s once again going to have a rough trip, as either the inside speed with Samraat glued to him from his outside, or caught in a sandwich chasing ‘Trouble with the big horse still lapped on. So either way you shake it up, it spells trouble for a horse with a ton of potential who has been snakebitten by the draw in his last two; tread lightly if he’s your guy,

#1 Noble Cornerstone: Lightly raced NY-bred is coupled in the wagering with Samraat, which kills any potential value you were hoping for on a runner who was a wise-guy horse exiting his 2-year-old campaign but beaten a furlong as the heavy favorite in Tampa Bay Downs’ GIII Sam Davis in his 3-year-old debut for Ward. Dig a bit deeper, though, and you’ll see this son of Noble Causeway ran with  blinkers off in the Davis and has them back on today, which bodes well for a horse who ran quite fast in two strong runs as a juvenile with the hood on. You also have to think he didn’t handle that quirky Tampa surface, as he was out the back soon after the start, which was a stark contrast to the tactical speed he showed at 2, so there’s no reason to think he can’t bounce back and run well here; not a bad Robin to Samraat’s Batman.

#5 Monopolize: The first of three from Pletcher needs to wake up in a hurry as he exits a disappointing run in a sharp GP optional claimer in January behind Top Billing, who was a good third against the bias there in last Saturday’s GII Fountain of Youth. Son of Bernardini adds blinkers today, cost a cool half million as a 2-year-old in training and is a local two-turn winner, so there are a few things in his favor, though on paper he’s about 15 lengths behind the heavyweights here; not seeing it.

#6 Deceived: Yet another talented NY-bred steps up and into open company for the first time off a romping 8 ¼-length optional claiming win going two turns here in January but has some 19 ½ lengths to make up on Samraat, who vanquished him two-back in the Damon Runyon. Son of Street Boss is in good hands with Gyarmati, who has done a stellar job with a talented group of sophomores for Treadway Racing, but there’s no doubt that this is asking a lot of a horse who is open lengths behind these on paper. His tactical style figures to ensure a good trip, but it’s hard to envision him doing anything but blinking when the real running begins; tough to tout.

#7 Classic Giacnroll: Hard-knocker has made his niche running underneath in a slew of stakes the past few months, but the bloom came off the rose a bit in the Withers, when he was poised off the Samraat-Uncle Sigh duel but was a flat and well-beaten fourth for Guerrero. Son of Derby winner Giacomo forges on and figures to once again trip out nicely, but with the two big guns back and slew of new, talented contenders, you have to think he might have hit his ceiling a few races back, when he was a good second to the talented Noble Moon in the local GII Jerome. If you still believe, then the price will be right and much bigger than you’re accustomed to, but that’s simply because up to this point he’s done nothing to indicate that he can he can put a scare into a group like this; playing against.

#1a Samraat: The big horse blew through a trio of NY-bred races by a combined 25 ¾ lengths but sure got a test in the Withers, when he got all the best of it dueling outside of Uncle Sigh before prevailing late. You have to be impressed with the moxie this son of Noble Causeway showed that day, when he finally got in a fight and was clearly the better horse at the end. The waters no doubt get deeper today, as there are plenty of hungry new shooters and his buddy ‘Sigh has every right to be a tougher customer,  too, but once again he drew perfectly, as he can be placed right outside the abundance of speed to his inside, which will really help his chances. Streaking runner has moved his game to a new level since getting two turns for Violette, and with this nice attack post and a pair of wins over the local oval, there’s little doubt that he’s the one to beat, though let’s keep searching for a bit more value; backwheel time.

#8 Extrasexyhippzster: Talk about versatile: this son of Stroll has done it all in five starts for Trombetta, winning the minor Don Rickles here sprinting in January, then stretching out and winning Laurel’s one-turn Miracle Wood at a mile three weeks later. He tackles the two-turn test for the first time today but is bred for the trip and has handled everything they’ve asked so far, so it’s tough to think he’s out of his element here. Of course, this is a huge rise in class for a horse who has been beating second and third-tier runners in his last two and makes his graded stakes debut today. There’s talent here to be sure, but he might get bet hard and on paper, his 4-1 ML makes him an underlay in the wake of the bigger names in here; trying to keep him out of the money.

#9 Master Lightning: The second from Pletcher likely rates as the longest shot on the board (yes, you read that correctly) after dismal runs in the Jerome and Miracle Wood, where he never threatened when the real running began. If you’re looking for positives, it would be that this son of Pulpit does own a local two-turn win and gets the services of Velasquez, who is as good as they come here in the winter, so at least there are a few things to hang your hat on. Of course, his recent form leaves a lot to be desired and this is by far the toughest group he’s seen to date; easy toss.

#10 Harpoon: The last of the Pletcher trio is by far the most accomplished of the group as he was beaten just a nose by his perfect-trip, winning stablemate Vinceremos in the Davis when last seen, after an extremely wide stretch run. Son of Tapit has shed the bridesmaid label in his last pair and has looked like a different horse since the blinkers came off, which allowed him to settle a bit better early on. It’s also worth noting that he could have easily stayed in Florida and run back in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he would have been about 5-2, yet here he is, some 1,100 miles north, over a track he’s never been over, taking a swing at a gaudy 500k purse. Point being, that’s a lot of confidence for a trainer that seldom makes the wrong move (he scratched Vinceremos at GP the same day to run in the Davis) and arrives here with a horse who is on the upswing, has the right stalking style in a race loaded with speed and will offer plenty of value to boot; look out.

Selections:

#10 Harpoon

#1a Samraat

#3 Financial Mogul

3 thoughts on “Brian’s Derby Preps: The Gotham (and a charity league update)

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