©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” express will log a lot of miles this Saturday with qualifying races on the east and west coast. At Aqueduct Racetrack, El Kabeir has been tagged as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the 62nd running of the $400,000 Gotham Stakes (G3). Post time is 4:50 p.m. ET.
With the defection of Far From Over from this race, El Kabeir is the deserving favorite and looms as the horse to beat. In seven starts, he’s only been off the board once and he comes into the Gotham with a 3-2-1 record in seven starts for John Terranova, including wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and Jerome Stakes (G3).
Regular jockey Charles Lopez retains the mount on El Kabeir in this race and I look for the pair to be competitive.
A long shot I like in this race is maiden winner Tiz Shea D (15-1) who looked impressive winning his maiden debut by four lengths. Entering this race, a lot of buzz surrounded Tiz Shea D who was bet down to 8-5 favoritism from the 6-1 morning line odds. Here’s the video and chart call:
TIZ SHEA D rallied around rivals on the turn and into stretch, took the lead near furlong grounds and drew clear.
Tiz Shea D did not disappoint the handicappers. He was all business and looked very professional in his debut win. After the race, he was purchased for an undisclosed amount by the partnership of Adam Watchel, Nils Brous and Gary Barber. You can read more about that purchase in the February 14, 2015 edition of the Thoroughbred Daily News Regional Report, page 10.
Tiz Shea D is a nice-looking bay colt by Tiznow, out of the A.P. Indy mare, Ender’s Sister, and he’s bred on the same Ancestral Herd nick that produced the recent John Battaglia Memorial Stakes winner, Royal Son.
Despite the fact that Tiz Shea D is making a huge step up in class, he has the pedigree to win this race and if he lives up to that breeding he could, perhaps, pull off the upset at a nice price.
In his last race, Classy Class (7-2) finished third in the Withers Stakes (G3), one length behind El Kabeir, and he could be a factor in this race. To date, he’s compiled a 1-0-1 record in three starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and he has room to improve in his second start of the season.
Another move forward and Classy Class could be competitive.
Toasting Master (20-1) is a horse I wrote about in my 2015 Kentucky Derby Outlook, but, so far he’s not lived up to my expectations. The Gotham will be the second start for Toasting Master running a route of ground and trainer Dale Romans is 25% stretching horses out for the second time.
The Gotham Stakes (G3) is part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series consisting of 16 races. Winners in those races will receive 50 points, the second-place finisher will receive 20 points, the third-place finisher will receive 10 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 5 points.
Halfway through this series beginning with the UAE Derby (G2), Florida Derby (G1) and Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 28, the points will increase to 100 points for the winner, 40 points for second place, 20 points for third and 10 points for fourth place.
Calculator, ranked 5th in the January 24 Kentucky Derby point standings, is sidelined with an injury for six months and he’s off the Derby trail. Leave the Light On, ranked 13th, is also off the trail.
Texas Red is sidelined with a foot abscess but could, perhaps, return to racing in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) or Arkansas Derby (G1).
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers
2015 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. International Star, 71, Mike Maker, $490,979
2. Itsaknockout, 50, Todd Pletcher, $240,500
3. Upstart, 36, Rick Violette Jr., $615,680
4. El Kabeir, 25, John Terranova II, $380,792
5. War Story, 24, Tom Amoss, $120,000
6. Far Right, 22, Ron Moquett, $385,906
7. Dortmund, 20, Bob Baffert, $390,000
8. Carpe Diem, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
9. Mr. Z, 14, D. Wayne Lukas, $518,326
10. Frosted, 13, Kiaran McLaughlin, $176,200
11. Texas Red, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $1,176,000
12. Keen Ice, 12, Dale Romans, $106,520
13. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 10, Jim Cassidy, $660,000
14. American Pharoah, 10, Bob Baffert, $360,000
15. Daredevil, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
16. Far From Over, 10, Todd Pletcher, $150,000
17. Metaboss, 10, Jeff Bonde, $126,000
18. Lucky Player, 10, Steve Asmussen, $97,231
19. Frammento, 10, Nick Zito, $42,000
20. Firing Line, 8, Simon Callaghan, $130,000