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Kentucky Derby prep: Gotham Stakes odds and analysis

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Saturday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham Stakes is the fifth of six stops on the Aqueduct road to Kentucky Derby 2024, and 50-25-15-10-5 qualifying points are available to the eligible finishers.

Past winners of the Gotham include Stay Thirsty in 2011, who went on to win the Travers (G1), the Cigar Mile (G1) and earnings of $1.5 million. In 2012, Hansen, who was the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion, earned $1.6 million. Vyjack ran in the Kentucky Derby after the Gotham and became a Grade 2 winner of $1.4 million in 2013.

Here is the analysis for the one-mile Gotham Stakes with morning-line odds from the Horse Racing Nation staff. It is scheduled as race 10 of 10 with post time set for 5:36 p.m. EST.

1. Khanate, 12-1. Hightail – Todd Pletcher / Jose Gomez – 6: 1-0-1 – $72,820. Khanate broke his maiden at Keeneland in October by more than 10 lengths in a race restricted by auction price. He ended the year with a sixth-place finish in an allowance at Churchill Downs. Khanate moved onto the Derby trail at Aqueduct and earned 5 Derby points from a third in the Jerome and a fifth in the Withers (G3). Trainer Todd Pletcher has two past victories in the Gotham in 2007 and in 2011. Blinkers come off. Toss.

2. Maximus Meridius, 15-1. Maximus Mischief – Robert Reid Jr. / Mychel Sanchez – 3: 2-0-1 – $91,700. Maximus Meridius broke his maiden by 10 1/2 lengths in his first career start in November at Parx Racing as heavy favorite in a field of nine. This Pennsylvania-bred then was third in an allowance in December. The blinkers went on for his third race, which was a front-running victory. Trainer Butch Reid has had plenty of success shipping to Aqueduct stakes, including a win in the Gotham with Uncle Heavy. Use underneath.


3. Deterministic, 15-1.
Liam’s Map – Christophe Clemente / Joel Rosario – 1: 1-0-0 – $57,750. Deterministic won his only career start, which came at Saratoga going seven furlongs rallying from behind after a slow start against a field of eight at odds of 7-2. He shipped from Payson Park in Florida, which is Christophe Clement’s winter base. Live long shot.

4. Facenda, 30-1. Violence – Doug O’Neill / Abel Cedillo – 1: 1-0-0 – $18,300. Facenda was a debut winner at Turf Paradise by a half-length as the heavy favorite against a field of six in a short sprint. Since that win in January he changed to the barn of two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill. Toss.

5. Deposition, 30-1. Constitution – Uriah St. Lewis / Dexter Haddock – 7: 1-0-1 – $60,775. Deposition added blinkers last time, and he went on to finish fourth in the Withers and earn 4 Derby points. He broke his maiden in his fifth try at Parx as the favorite in a field of seven by more than four lengths going two turns with a stalking trip. Trainer Uriah St. Lewis won a couple of Aqueduct stakes with long shots. Toss.

6. Air Cav, 20-1. Mitole – Brad Cox / Eric Cancel – 3: 1-0-1 – $52,400. Air Cav won his first start in August at Horseshoe Indianapolis as the favorite against five other horses. He was moved to Brad Cox’s New York division, where he ran a distant fifth in the Champagne Stakes (G1) to earn 1 Derby point and then was pretty far back when he was third in the Jimmy Winkfield behind his stablemate Bergen. Toss.

7. El Grande O, 4-1. Take Charge Indy – Linda Rice / Kendrick Carmouche – 10: 3-5-1 – $399,000. The New York-bred El Grande O leads the field with 10 starts, $399,000 in earnings and a record that includes nine top-three finishes that earned him 15 Derby points. He moved from a victory in an October state-bred stakes race to the Derby trail, where he finished second in the Jerome and then the Withers (G3). In that one, he gamely missed the win by a nose going nine furlongs. El Grande O can benefit from the cutback to a mile. The one to beat.

8. Bergen, 6-1. Liam’s Map – Brad Cox / Manny Franco – 3: 2-1-0 – $136,975. Bergen broke his maiden at first asking at Keeneland in October as the 3-1 favorite against a 12-horse field. He was a late-running second going a mile at Churchill in an allowance and then won the six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct in January as an odds-on favorite. Trainer Brad Cox has four horses in the Gotham as he seeks his first win in the race. Top choice.

9. Eliminate, 30-1. Curlin – Todd Pletcher / Dylan Davis – 4: 1-0-2 – $72,500. Eliminate was the favorite in all four of his races, with one at Saratoga and three at Aqueduct. He was third in his first two races and broke his maiden in his fourth start in a field of five after cutting back to a sprint from a pair of two-turn tests. Toss.

10. Just a Touch, 3-1. Justify – Brad Cox / Florent Geroux – 1: 1-0-0 – $34,200. Just a Touch was well-regarded ahead of his maiden victory, when he was the 1-2 favorite at Fair Grounds. The son of Justify went through the sales ring three times, most recently selling for $300,000 as a 2-year-old. He won that first start by more than four lengths in a sprint with Lasix against a group of eight with the highest speed figure of any runner in the Gotham. Favored of the four Cox runners.

11. Lightline, 8-1. City of Light – Brad Cox / Ramon Vazquez – 4: 1-2-1 – $99,850. Lightline overwhelmed a field of eight maidens in his first start at Horseshoe Indianapolis by almost 14 lengths as the favorite in September. He was second in two allowances that were run at Keeneland and then Oaklawn. He started 2024 on the Derby trail in New York when he was third as the even-money favorite in the Withers, which got him 6 Derby points. Win contender.

12. Slider, 10-1. Jimmy Creed – John Sadler / Jose Lezcano – 5: 2-1-1 – $159,600. Slider will travel from his Santa Anita base after a third in the San Vicente (G2) behind the Bob Baffert-trained Muth, where he was the pacesetter. Slider broke his maiden at Del Mar in September and then won a turf-sprint stakes at Santa Anita in October. He was ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf to finish his 2-year-old races. Win contender.


13. Capital Idea, 15-1.
Classic Empire – Christophe Clement / Trevor McCarthy – 2: 1-0-1 – $54,200. Capital Idea broke his maiden in his second try at Aqueduct, beating a field of six by more than eight lengths going a mile on a sloppy and sealed track with Lasix. Toss.

Summary: The Gotham’s one-turn mile attracted a large field of 13, which includes six who will stretch out in distance from sprinting for the first time in this official Kentucky Derby points race. Top trainers filled the entry box, with Brad Cox’ s four and two each from Todd Pletcher and Christophe Clement.

El Grande O is the one to beat after his tenacious second-place finish in the Withers. Just a Touch will try to score in a Grade 2 on the Derby trail after an impressive maiden victory in his only start. Bergen improved in all three starts. He was a debut winner, rallied in a mile allowance and then won the Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct. Helped by an anticipated contentious pace, Bergen will be the top choice.

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