Friday, March 1, 2013

Gotham Stakes Racing Roundup

The Empire State and Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack have been good to trainer Todd Pletcher.  He won his first Gotham with Cowtown Cat in 2007. In 2011, Pletcher won again with Stay Thirsty, and he followed that in 2012 with a victory by the Eclipse champion 2-year-old Hansen. Saturday, Pletcher will have the opportunity to become the trainer with the most wins in the Gotham when he sends Overanalyze to the starting gate as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in 61st running of the prestigious $400,000 graded-stakes race.

Overanalyze is previously tested in stakes competition, compiling a 2-0-1 record in four graded-stakes races. But, he has not raced since his narrow victory last November over Normandy Invasion in the Remsen Stakes (G2), and the spot Pletcher has chosen for his debut as a 3-year-old appears to be a very contentious race.

Last weekend, Normandy Invasion finished off the board in his debut as a 3-year-old in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), and it appears that Overanalyze will have to be at the top of his game if he’s going to be competitive in the Gotham. I didn’t like Normandy Invasion in the Risen Star and I’m not too keen on Overanalyze for the win in the Gotham.

Two young colts that most intrigue me in this race are Elnaawi (8-1) and Ore Pass (12-1).

Elnaawi, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, raced only once as a 2-year-old, finishing third in a 7-furlong sprint at Aqueduct on December 8. On January 12, in his debut as a 3-year-old running a mile at Aqueduct, Elnaawi broke his maiden by an easy four lengths.

I like to see lightly-raced colts like Elnaawi win their debut as a 3-year-old as it could be an indicator of more good things to come. A half-brother of To Honor And Serve, Elnaawi has the breeding to be competitive in the Gotham.

Street Sense, the sire of Elnaawi, was the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) victor and 2-year-old Eclipse champion. As a 3-year-old, Street Sense won his season debut in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) en route to victory in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

Elnaawi’s damsire, Deputy Minister, was a tough competitor winning eight of nine starts as a 2-year-old, and he was selected as the 1981 Canadian Horse of the Year and 2-year-old champion in Canada and the United States.

As a sire, Deputy Minister sired the Canadian Classic Champion Awesome Again and the Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Touch Gold. As a damsire, Deputy Minister mares have produced the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Sarava, Jazil, Curlin and Rags To Riches.

Miswaki, the sire of  Elnaawi’s second dam Misty Hour, sired Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea. English Triple Crown winner and outstanding sire Nijinsky is the sire of the third dam Our Tina Marie.

Pilfer, the dam of Elnaawi, is a tail-female descendant of the fifth dam Golden Trail who was the ancestral dam of multiple graded stakes winners Brian’s Time, Sunshine Forever and Memories of Silver. Golden Trail is also the fifth dam of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos and she is the third dam of Dynaformer.

I profiled To Honor And Serve in my 2011 Kentucky Derby Outlook as a colt with potential and if Elnaawi is anything like his half-brother, he could be competitive in the Gotham.

Ore Pass, trained by Michael Trombetta, is lightly-raced and steps up to graded stakes competition. He looked impressive winning his maiden debut by 10¾-lengths at Laurel Park last November, and, to date, he has two wins in three starts.

Ore Pass also won his debut as a 3-year-old with a 1½-length win in the Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes at Laurel Park on January 19. He has room to improve in his second start of the season and he has the breeding to be competitive.

Ore Pass is a descendant of the Cherokee Run sire line and in my July 3 blog of 2009 I noted the importance of keeping track of colts from that line when they stretch out to route racing.

Over the years, the Cherokee Run sire line has produced a lot of good middle- distance runners such as War Pass, the sire of Ore Pass. Other good runners from that line include: Yonaguska, Kafwain, Sir Cherokee, During, Chelokee, Zanjero, Recapturetheglory, Musket Man and The Pamplemousse.

As a 2-year-old, Ore Pass’s sire War Pass won the Champagne Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) en route to being crowned the 2007 Eclipse Champion Two-Year-old Colt. As a 3-year-old, War Pass finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) but an injury kept him from competing in the Kentucky Derby.

The tail-female line of Ore Pass is reinforced with the champions Stephen Got Even and Seeking The Gold, and the classic champions Summing, Proud Clarion and Arctic Prince.

Ore Pass has room to improve in his second start of the season and another move forward would make him competitive in the Gotham.

Escapefromreality (6-1) is now 1-2-0 in three starts and he comes into the Gotham with a narrow loss to Revolutionary in the Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct on February 2. A repeat of that form, and a recent bullet workout could have him ready to run a good race.

Honorable mention goes to the maiden-debut winner Now And Then (8-1). He’s taking a big step up in class, but he has the breeding to be competitive and if he looks especially good in the paddock and post parade, he may we worthy of a wager.


Phase two of the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” kicked off last weekend with 135.20 to 1 long shot Ive Struck a Nerve powering down the stretch at the Fair Grounds to win the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and claim first-place honors on the top 20 leaderboard. Under the new scoring system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility for horses to enter the Derby starting gate, the winner of the Gotham Stakes (G3) will receive 50 points while second-place will yield 20 points, the third-place finisher will receive 10 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 5 points.

Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:

Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard

(Updated March 1, 2013)

Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1 = Ive Struck a Nerve, 51, Keith Desormeaux, $268,000

2 = Orb, 50, Shug McGaughey III, $240,000

3 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000

4 = Goldencents, 24, Doug O’Neill, $740,000

5 = Code West, 20, Bob Baffert, $80,000

6 = Oxbow, 16, D. Wayne Lukas, $196,000

7 = Speak Logistics, 11, Eddie Pleasa, Jr., $52,500

8 = Itsmyluckyday, 10, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $393,600

9 = Overanalyze, 10, Todd Pletcher, $296,381

10 = Uncaptured, 10, Mark Casse, $292,374

11 = Den’s Legacy, 10, Bob Baffert, $265,000

12 = Power Broker, 10, Bob Baffert, $210,000

13 = Super Ninety Nine, 10, Bob Baffert, $200,000

14 = Will Take Charge, 10, D. Wayne Lukas, $152,971

15 = Falling Sky, 10, John Terranova II, $122,500

16 = Flashback, 10, Bob Baffert, $120,000

16 = Revolutionary, 10, Todd Pletcher, $120,000

18 = Palace Malice, 10, Todd Pletcher, $40,000

19 = Dynamic Sky, 8, Mark Casse, $271,668

20 = He’s Had Enough, 6, Doug O’Neill, $430,000

Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated March 2, 2013)

Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Ive Struck a Nerve, 51, Keith Desormeaux, $268,000
2 = Vyjack, 50, Rudy Rodriguez, $405,000
3 = Orb, 50, Shug McGaughey III, $240,000
4 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000
5 = Goldencents, 24, Doug O’Neill, $740,000
6 = West Hills Giant, 20, John Terranova II, $89,000
7 = Code West, 20, Bob Baffert, $80,000
8 = Oxbow, 16, D. Wayne Lukas, $196,000
9 = Speak Logistics, 11, Eddie Pleasa, Jr., $52,500
10 = Itsmyluckyday, 10, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $393,600
11 = Overanalyze, 10, Todd Pletcher, $308,381
12 = Uncaptured, 10, Mark Casse, $292,374
13 = Den’s Legacy, 10, Bob Baffert, $265,000
14 = Power Broker, 10, Bob Baffert, $210,000
15 = Super Ninety Nine, 10, Bob Baffert, $200,000
16 = Will Take Charge, 10, D. Wayne Lukas, $152,971
17 = Falling Sky, 10, John Terranova II, $122,500
18 = Flashback, 10, Bob Baffert, $120,000
18 = Revolutionary, 10, Todd Pletcher, $120,000
20 = Elnaawi, 10, Kiaran McLaughlin, $40,000
20 = Palace Malice, 10, Todd Pletcher, $40,000

Gotham Stakes (G3), Aqueduct, March 2, 2013
1. Vyjack, 50
2. West Hills Giant, 20
3. Elnaawi, 10
4. Siete de Oros, 5


  1. Calvin, I think you over looked a BIG SLEEPER! in the Gotham.

    Sky Captain is sitting in huge race.
    This Keeneland sale for 210K is a special horse that will get the distance. His last effort was a good first time two turns and will improve greatly from the effort.

    Did you know this colt dam is Half-sister to Eight Belles, one of only two fillies to place second in the Kentucky Derby. Also, they recently breed again in 2012, a colt by Sky Mesa as his FULL BROTHER.

    This colt is going to make some noise today in the Gotham.

    Look for a powerful effort. It won't take much more improvement to win this contest. Time to earn that 210K back and more.

  2. Barry,

    I took a long look at Sky Captain but passed because of his recent form. Cerro's off the board finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes also was a factor in my analysis.

    However, a win by Sky Captain would be no surprise as you noted, he has a good pedigree. The tail-female of Sky Captain descends from La Troienne. In addition, the tail-female of his sire, Sky Mesa, and damsire, Smarty Jones, also descend from La Troienne.

    Overall, I think this is a competitive race and looking forward to see who takes first-place honors.

  3. He ran up the track and quit running after being pushed wide in the clubhouse turn. He should have been ready running second time two turn. Puzzled race for him.

  4. Calvin, Animal Kingdom 11) 1s & 7) 11s

    West hills giant 11)1s & 5)11s

    Vyjack of C-horse is also a 1

    As is Sky Captain as you noted.

  5. Calvin , I saw a list today that had Phar Lap on it. I checked him out. He's got 13) 1s , * 8)2s * 3) 3s . He's a 1 * 2 * 3 ! He had the sweet blood in large doses. Just a side note I thought you might like. :)

    Trying to scare me with that tidbit about VeranZano ? ;) I'll stand against him anyway while respecting the knowledge and tidbit. I doubt he's any better than El Padrino. We shall see :)

  6. Calvin or BSB OR ANYONE,can u tell about Storm Cat whether as a sire/broodmare sire or whatever if his offspring can get a classic distance.


  7. VQ, Calvin can probably answer better than me on this ,buttZ... Storm Cat tops can get the distance IMO. I don't think they've Won the Derby ? They have won the Preakness & Belmont. Storm Cat as a sire had no tendency to get (A) particular type of runner. He's hard to type . He had a big range.

    Sometimes these jinxs are hard to explain ;-) Like the Damascus jinx. There is *ONLY* one derby winner each year is one way to explain it. Mr.Prospector himself only had one Derby winner and that didn't come until his last crop.

    It was already being said for 10 yrs that Bold Ruler couldn't get a Derby winner then he got Secretariat !!

    So while Storm Cat didn't sire a Derby horse I wouldn't go as far as to say his line can't. And/Or if it is just a Derby thing ,its not distance buttZ... Track surface ,climate, or something else like that.

    Calvin probably knows if Storm Cats can win other races at Churchill ? Blue Grass Cat ran 2nd in the Derby. Calvin might remember some other Storm Cats that hit the Board ? Birdstone, Mine That Bird & Summer Bird aren't Storm Cats buttZ... they are Storm Birds.


  8. VQ, tell that guy JVH that Phar Lap is a BSB 1*2*3 and he's HEAVILY loaded with 1s & 2s. BSB 1*2*3s don't come along everyday. Phar Lap has as many 1s as Dr Fager and more 2s.

    His other race is unbalanced. 3/4s of the horses are one way frontrunners or pressers. Then there is a couple of trackers & stalkers. I think there's only two legit closers in the race and one of them is the fastest closer ever on the main track. At least the ones in the Champions book. Based on Z being the unbalanced horse she'd be 80% to place. Even if she wasn't Z !!!

  9. VQ,

    Thanks for your contribution and thanks for following my blog.

    Storm Cat sired the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat, and with several outstanding descendants such as Giant's Causeway, Harlan's Holiday and Lion Heart, I think that someday they, too, will sire an American classic winner.

    I think that Giant's Causeway is a prime candidate to sire a classic winner and for the past few he's had some good runners that perhaps, with some luck, could have earned classic honors. Eskendereya comes to mind.

    War Academy is a horse I like on this year's trail and I wrote about him in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook. He's trained by Bob Baffert and he's yet to earn any Derby points.

    If he's a good horse, Baffert will give him a shot and I'm looking forward to see him later this season.

    Again, thanks for the question.

  10. Barr, BSB,

    Thanks for your contributions. I appreciate them much.


    I'm looking for a final BSB family numbers breakdown of the Derby field when it's finally set.