Friday, March 4, 2011

Gotham Stakes

Aqueduct Racetrack

Saturday March 5th 2011
Estimated Local Post Time:
Name: Gotham Stakes Grade: III
Purse: $250,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

The Fed Eased
Nacho Saint
Starship Ceasar
Toby’s Corner
Stay Thirsty
Isn’t He Perfect
Norman Asbjornson

The Gotham Stakes provide a look at New York’s best three year olds as they prepare for the Wood Memorial (in April) and of course the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown that begins in two months.

Toby’s Corner and Stay Thirsty are the two headliners in this off-broadway event, and (rightfully so) they are also the two morning line favorites this Saturday. Toby’s Corner currently sits at 5-2, while Stay Thirsty is slightly favored with 9-5 odds.

Toby’s Corner (#4) enters this race with a slight home court advantage after having won the Whirlaway Stakes here at Aqueduct last month – a race that (#7) Preachintothedevil finished 3rd.

Stay Thirsty (#5) will be racing for the first time since finishing 5th in the Breeder’s Cup Challenge in November (where he lost to a horse you’ll be hearing a lot about in the next few months – Uncle Mo). The interesting thing about horses that are this young – is that a lay-off like this can be a really unpredictable thing to account for. Will Stay Thirsty….and yes every time I write that I think about this guy –

Will Stay Thirsty enter this race rested, well prepared and fine tuned for a Triple Crown run ??? Or will this horse take a major step backwards as he adjusts to racing again?? It’s that unaccountability that makes me believe you should avoid betting big on this horse.

However the rest of the field (outside of Toby’s Corner) fails to display any particular interesting prospects.

The Fed Eased (#1) has two races, a win and a place, on his resume – however both races were only 6 furlongs – and in my amateur opinion this horse appears to struggle (more so than most horses) on making turns….and this will be his first race making two turns instead of just one. If this horse can control the inside he could finish in the top 3, but I’m not convinced he’s got the ability to win the Gotham.

Nacho Saint (#2) enters this race with a solid history for such a young horse – in five races he’s finished with 1 win, 3 places and one 5th place finish. His last race was a 1-mile victory here at Aqueduct and I like the prospects for this horse in the Gotham. He’ll have a perfect position coming out of the gate and at 6-1 odds might be worth a look.

Starship Ceasar (#3) sports 2 wins and 1 second place finish in his first three races, and yet the odds makers see him as a 15-1 investment. Despite his impressive record he’ll be racing against a stronger quality of horse this go around, and it will be his first visit to Aqueduct. Still 15-1 for a horse that hasn’t finished worse than 2nd in his career – and has a one mile victory in the books….may be worth a look.

Isn’t He Perfect (#6) – if this is a question the answer is no. Every so often there comes a three year old horse whose owners believe racing as much as possible is bound to prove something. This horse has nearly double the race history of his competitors in the Gotham. He’s already punched in for 7 races….and he has 1 win and a show for his efforts. He’s going off at 30-1 for a victory.…..but he’s going off at 2-5 that he’ll need a nap after finishing a mile.

Preachintothedevil (#7) finished 3rd in the Whirlaway Stakes against Toby’s Corner. However before that he finished 1st, 3rd, and 1st in consecutive races….so he’s due for another 1st right??? In my opinion if Stay Thirsty comes out rusty, and Toby’s Corner isn’t sharp – Preachintothedevil could indeed follow his 1st / 3rd history.

Norman Asbjornson (#8) named after the former Chairman of the Board, Director, and President of AAON Inc. (ranked 58th on Forbes for Small Companies)…The horse (not the executive) is coming off two straight victories out of Pennsylvania both at a mile 1/16th and 1 mile races. It’ll be his first look at this quality of competition, and his first run at Aqueduct…but at 20-1 he’s a long shot worth considering.

Rounding out the field – Hello Dawly (#9) – yeah this first blog is off to the usual terrible punning we’ve all become painfully accustomed too – Dawly is yet another horse on a two win streak – and has both of his victories here at Aqueduct. However this will be his first attempt at anything further than 6 furlongs, and his first look at this quality of horse as well. With a different post position I think he could have been more of a threat in this race, but I doubt Dawly pulls off the 12-1 upset here.

In conclusion I like Toby's Corner to maintain his champion status in New York, followed by Nacho Saint and then Stay Thirsty. However that's not how I'd bet it.

With $6 I'd approach this race by "keying" Toby's Corner with Nacho Saint / Starship Ceasar and Norman Asbjornson in an exacta - where Toby's Corner would need to finsh 1st or 2nd - with one of the other three horses coming in either first or second = 4 w/ 2,3,9 and 2,3,9 w/4.

And for the musical selection of the week - New Orlean's own Harry Connick Jr. playing Hello Dawly Dolly.

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