The Derby Trail turns to the Big Apple and the Big A this afternoon, with the Grade 2 Gotham Stakes in Ozone Park. The main prep race before the Wood Memorial in April has drawn 10 colts, including three from the Todd Pletcher barn attempting to capture valuable Derby qualifying points. The top four finishers garner 50-20-10-5 points, respectively.
Let’s take a look at the field….
1 – Combat Diver (Contessa, Russell, 12-1) Finished second in a non-graded stake at Laurel and returns to New York to try the inner for the second time, his first was a dismal performance in November in the Remsen when he stepped up in class. Not sold on him in here.
2 – Dontbetwithbruno (Pletcher, Franco, 5-1) Expensive son of Tiz Wonderful broke his maiden in his third try, steps up for Repole Stables looking for back-to-back wins at the Big A. Contender.
3 – Classy Class (McLaughlin, Alvarado, 7-2) Second choice on the morning line off his third place finish in the Withers behind the favorite. Son of excellent sprinter Discreetly Mine has some solid morning times on his work tab and shouldn’t be dismissed at 8 ½ furlongs.
4 – El Kabeir (Terranova, Lopez, 8-5) The race is his to lose. The Zayat Stables colt has already amassed 25 Derby points, another sound performance will solidify a gate on the First Saturday in May. Not a lot of threatening competitors in here and he could be even money when they spring the latch on this one.
5 – Lieutenant Colonel (Brown, Carmouche, 5-1) Broke his maiden first time out for top trainer Chad Brown at Gulfstream with Johnny V in the irons. Son of Travers winner Colonel John has early speed, but the inner at the Big A is not the drag strip that he ran on in Florida. Using underneath.
6 – Tiz Shea D (Mott, Rice, 15-1) Intriguing long shot for Bill Mott, who only enters them if he thinks he can win. The Tiznow-sired colt out of an A.P. Indy mare has the breeding to go long and broke his maiden impressively at Parx. Will be looking for him to complete the exacta under the favorite.
7 – Toasting Master (Romans, Arroyo, 20-1) Likely to be the longest shot on the board and for good reason. He has struggled after two impressive wins at Churchill Downs last November. Needs to return to last year’s form in a hurry.
8 – Uninfluenced (Pletcher, Jara, 5-1) One of the three colts entered by the Pletcher/Repole Stable connections and the only maiden in the race. Ortiz jumps off to ride Blame Jim, morning line appears generous here.
9 – Tencendur (Weaver, Velasquez, 8-1) Finished fourth in the competitive Withers and George Weaver has pulled his share of upsets on the circuit and puts the blinkers on the Warrior’s Reward colt. Passing for now, but wouldn’t be surprised if he hit the board.
10 – Blame Jim (Pletcher, Ortiz, 5-1) All three Pletchers are 5-1 on the morning line and this is likely the best of the three with a good work on his card. Ships up from Gulfstream to enter this weaker field to gather those all important Derby points.
Post Time Outlook – 1 – El Kabeir; 2 – Tiz Shea D; 3 – Blame Jim; 4 – Lieutenant Colonel
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.