Aqueduct: The GIII, $300,000 Gotham at 1-mile (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 50-20-10-5)
by Brian Nadeau
Brian handicaps at Capital OTB and Horseplayer Now, and he’ll offer analysis and selections of Derby points races, hoping to make us all a little money as we head to the Belmont Stakes. Follow him on Twitter here.
#1 Celtic Striker (30-1): Expected pace player added blinkers for Handal and wired an AOC going two turns at this mile trip (albeit at two turns) last time at Parx, though he did it in slow time, and this is a huge step up in class for this son of Congrats, in what is a very speedy field; pace player, no more.
#2 Informative (15-1): Veteran finally got the job done in his eighth career start when he won a track and distance MSW last month for St Lewis, and while this is a barn that has blown up the board in the past, this Bodemeister colt won’t do it here; tough to tout.
#3 War Stopper (5-1): Dangerous speedster for Rodriguez is another that added blinkers and ran off, but this son of Declaration of War did it over the track and distance through fast splits and in very fast time, which stamps him as the one to catch here. Still, there’s a ton of pace signed on, and taking on winners fresh off an MSW win is a big ask, so while he could get brave if he clears, that scenario might be a reach; will be winging early.
#4 Attachment Rate (9-2): Rapidly improving son of Hard Spun has really come to hand for Romans, as he almost blew up the board when second at 50-1 at Gulfstream Park two back, then got slop and broke his maiden at a one-turn mile last month. The positives don’t stop there, either, as he owns the right kind of stalking gear that should enable him to lay midpack and make a run off the far turn. And while he’s like ‘Stopper next door and facing winners, the race flow plays a lot more to his running style, which makes him mighty appealing here; call in a real scramble.
#5 Necker Island (12-1): Hough trainee didn’t break particularly well in GP’s GIII Swale last time and got caught on the hard chase and predictably tired badly behind today’s ML favorite Mischevious Alex, so he’s got his work cut out to rebound. On the plus side, that was his first start since a one-turn AOC win at Churchill Downs to end his 2-year-old season, but this Hard Spun colt is another that wants to be involved early, which won’t help him late; expecting a pop and stop.
#6 Mischevious Alex (3-1): Heavy hitter for John Servis dueled early in the Swale, then ran off by seven in what was a powerhouse performance, and the way he streaked through the lane says that this one-turn mile should be right in his wheelhouse. Yet another runner for Into Mischief, this colt was also making his first start since November last time, so there’s a chance that he moves forward off that breakthrough win. The worry, though, is the pace, which will be hot, and note that he’s wired or been a neck off early in his three wins, so with tougher competition here, it might be best to make him step up once again; siding against on top.
#7 Sixto (8-1): Surprising début winner gets thrown into the deep end of the pool by Guillot, though it’s that time of the year when they have to find out if they are sinking or swimming on the national scene, so it’s no surprise that he’s here. That 6F local MSW win was strong, too, and as a son of Curlin, he should like the added ground he gets today as well, and don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a barn that never wins on debut, either, which further hints that this could be a real runner. He’s also got a running style that should play well behind the speed, and even if a win is a bridge too far today, he’s got every right to spice up your exotics; price players have their hero.
#8 Montauk Traffic (6-1): Stretch-runner for Rice rolled home in the lane to win the 7F Jimmy Winkfield here last month, which was his second straight strong win over the track after a no-show debut in the slop at Laurel. Son of Cross Traffic is another that will like not only the race flow, but should also like the added ground, as he’s been streaking late in his last two, which stamps him as a serious stretch danger. The price should also be square here, too, with some sexy new shooters signed on, and there’s always something to be said for a homecourt advantage; looms mighty large.
#9 Flap Jack (30-1): Longshot hasn’t been out since a four-length maiden breaking win in the Arlington-Washington Futurity over the Polytrack in September, so this is one heck of a spot to make your comeback. Young trainer Sisterson has a future, and this Calumet homebred son of Oxbow might, too, but his lone dirt run (albeit in his debut at Ellis Park) was weak, so he looks out of his element here; not seeing it.
#10 Untitled (4-1): Yet another of the speed brigade was all the rage off his 11-length debut win at GP and was subsequently privately purchased by Barber and turned over to Casse, though he didn’t back up the hype when a chasing and a distant fourth in the Swale. Give this son of Khozan credit, though, as he stretched out to two turns, set the pace, and held well behind Pletcher’s well-regarded Gouverneur Morris in a two-turn AOC at Tampa Bay Downs last time, in an effort that makes him a player here, though until he proves that début win was no fluke, he’s tough to trust; tread lightly if landing here.
#11 First Deputy (30-1): New York-bred is the second from Rice and enters off two straight going 6Fs over the track, though neither of those wins will scare anyone here. If you’re a fan, though, you’ll get an ace barn at a big price, and this Awesome Again colt has never been better, owns the right running style, and will like the added ground, too, though this still seems a reach; minor exotics appeal.
#3 War Stopper
#8 Montauk Traffic
#6 Mischevious Alex