2015 Gotham Stakes Preview

Saturday, March 7 features a total of three races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The first race of the three is the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

A total of 10 three-year olds will go a mile and a sixteenth on the inner dirt track. The purse is $400,000 with the top four finishers receiving 50, 20, 10, and 5 points respectively. The points for the winner will practically solidify a spot in the Kentucky Derby via the Points Leaderboard.

Post time for the Gotham Stakes is at 4:50 PM Eastern Time and is carded as the ninth race of the day. Free past performances can be found here.

1. Dontbetwithbruno (5-1 Morning Line) – The first of a trio for Todd Pletcher, he broke his maiden last time out in his third start. Prior to that he was second in his second race and fourth in his debut. He will break from post two in this race and he will get perfect position to stalk from behind the leaders. He is dangerous in this race.

1A. Uninfluenced (5-1 ML) – The second horse of the Pletcher trio, he will be breaking from post 8. He is still a maiden after finishing fourth by 5 lengths in his debut. Last time out, he was second by a neck at a mile on the inner dirt here at Aqueduct. He will need to step up to be a factor in this race. You would get better odds on him if he were not coupled.

1X. Blame Jim (5-1 ML) – The final Pletcher entrant will be breaking from post 10. He debuted in July 2014 at Saratoga where he went gate-to-wire and won by 3 lengths. After nearly 7 months on the bench, he came back on February 8 at Gulfstream and finished second by a length and a half. He clearly needed that last race, but he has not raced beyond six furlongs. He will probably be near the lead in this race and with his fellow entrants he has a chance to make some noise.

2. Combat Diver (12-1 ML) – He started his career on turf at Belmont where he finished tenth by 13 lengths. He moved to dirt in his second and won by a nose. He stepped up into Graded stakes competition in the Remsen where he was tenth by 19 lengths. Last time out he missed out on the win by a nose in the listed Miracle Wood at Laurel Park. He tends to make one run in his races and with several speed horse signed on, he could make a stretch run. He will be breaking from the rail here.

3. Classy Class (7-2 ML) – He broke his maiden at Belmont in October by 4 lengths before finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Remsen in his first try around two turns. After a little break, he returned in the Grade 3 Withers and tried to take the field gate-to-wire. He finished third by 2 3/4 lengths. He should be tighter on Saturday for this race, but there are quite a few speed horses in this race.

4. El Kabeir (8-5 ML) – The most experienced runner in this field is also the classiest. He has run in 5 consecutive graded stakes finishing first or second in four of them. In his last race, the Grade 3 Withers, he tried to duel three wide, but was run down by Far From Over in the last eighth of a mile to finish second by 1 3/4 lengths. The worry here is that he may get caught in another speed duel, but he should be close at the wire.

5. Lieutenant Colonel (5-1 ML) – He has only one start to his credit and it was at one mile at Gulfstream Park. He pressed the lead and then took over while holding on for the victory by a head. Now he makes the trek up north to Aqueduct where he faces other speed horses. He has a chance if he shows the ability to rate in his second start.

6. Tiz Shea D (15-1 ML) – Another horse who broke his maiden last time out, which was also in his first start. He won by 4 lengths at Parx under the care of trainer Jason Servis going 5.5 furlongs by sitting off the pace and taking over in the stretch. He has been switched to the barn of Bill Mott since his debut and his pedigree suggests the stretch out to 8.5 furlongs should not be an issue. The waters get deeper here, but the abundance of speed in combination with his rating ability makes him an intriguing long shot.

7. Toasting Master (20-1 ML) – The longest shot in the field based on the morning line makes his way from Florida. He began his career at Churchill Downs finishing second in his debut. Nearly 2 months later he came back at Churchill to break his maiden in his second race before winning the next race as well. He went to Gulfstream to try the Spectacular Bid field, but found it too tough finishing sixth by 14 lengths. His latest race was at a mile and a sixteenth at the Ocala Training Center. He finished fourth by 3 lengths when he prompted the pace. He has shown to be a need the lead type of horse and that severely compromises his chances here.

8. Tencendur (8-1 ML) – He will be breaking from post 9 and is also exiting the Grade 3 Withers. He finished fourth that day 5 lengths behind the leader while running evenly throughout. He has trained well for this race and there should be enough pace for him to close into while stalking the leaders. A worry for him breaking from the ninth post and trying to get a good spot behind the front runners. He is putting blinkers on, but overall is a tough horse to handicap in this race.



#4 El Kabeir is clearly the one to beat. He struggled last time to beat a mediocre field in the Grade 3 Withers and the worry here is that he will be caught in a speed duel. The entry of Todd Pletcher’s horses will be tough, especially #1 Dontbetwithbruno from post 2. He will get great position from that spot and have first run on the leaders. #6 Tiz Shea D is an interesting long shot making his route and stakes debut, but should have a good trip. #5 Lieutenant Colonel is also an interesting horse with his backers hoping he takes back and does not end up in the speed duel. #3 Classy Class should do better than last race of the break, but may end up with a lot of company on the lead that will hurt his chances.

1. Dontbetwithbruno (Pletcher entry of 1, 1A, and 1X)

2. El Kabeir

3. Tiz Shea D

4. Lieutenant Colonel

Check back on Saturday evening for a recap of the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes.

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