Another big weekend of Kentucky Derby preps is coming up with several Kentucky Derby prep races happening across the country. Today’s blog will focus on the Gotham Stakes from Aqueduct Racetrack along with a few stakes races from the undercard and the Tampa Bay Derby. Let’s get started:
Aqueduct Racetrack – Race 10 – The Gotham (Grade 3) (22:06 GMT / 17:09 ET)
This year’s Gotham has a field of 8 led by Instagrand who is listed at 1-1 on the morning line but will more likely go off at odds lower than that. Instagrand ships across the country from his home base in California by trainer Jerry Hollandorfer. Instagrand caused a stir last summer with two scintillating 10+ length wins.
Hollandorfer lures the services of leading rider Javier Castellano and as much as I’d like to pick against him (long layoff, unfamiliar track, stretching out, new rider, short price), his trainer is one of the most proficient horsemen in the game and he doesn’t ship horses east unless they’re ready to run.
Aqueduct Racetrack – Race 8 – The Tom Fool Handicap (Grade 3) (21:06 GMT / 16:06 ET)
With last year’s winner – Skyler’s Scramjet listed as the morning line favorite and an abundance of speed signed on, I’m taking a shot with two closers who should each offer a decent enough price. Life in Shambles is trained by Jason Servis who is winning at an UNBELIEVABLE 28% on the year. Although his graded stakes win % is slightly lower, his running style fits here and makes him a major player at current odds.
I like Do Share for the same reason of running style. My only issue with him is that he may need another race after a reasonably long layoff.
Syndergaard has improved his game losing a few close decisions recently and getting a positive rider switch to John Velazquez.
Aqueduct Racetrack – Race 9 – The Stymie (21:37 GMT/ 16:37 ET)
The Stymie came up an interesting race this year and features the return of last year’s Wood Memorial winner – Vino Rosso. Vino Rosso hasn’t been seen in action since a dull 5th place finish in the Travers last August and hasn’t seen the winners circle since his win in the aforementioned Wood Memorial. He won’t offer much value here so I’m leaning elsewhere.
I’m going to look for Stan the Man to win wire to wire. Stan the Man owns the field’s highest last race Beyer Speed Figure of 102 and has the running style to be able to be on or near the lead. His only pace pressure should come from California Night to his inside but aside from that, all the contenders are stalkers and closers.
Tampa Bay Downs – Race 11 – The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2) (22:25 GMT / 17:25 ET)
The Tampa Bay Derby is another prep race on the road to the Kentucky Derby and features a few looking to make a name for themselves but no real standouts. Favoritism will likely go to Win Win Win who has won at sprint distances with some high-speed figures. I’m taking a contrarian’s approach on Win Win Win winning the Tampa Bay Derby because I don’t think he’ll be able to handle the added distance based on his trainer’s lowish 12% win percentage with stretch outs and 0/7 record in graded stakes this year.
I like Admire to upset the party at current generous odds. Admire is lightly raced and comes out of a quickly run Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. He’s trained by Dale Romans who certainly knows how to win a Derby prep race and should be able to stalk a quick pace and pounce.