Gotham Stakes Lures a Full Field of Sophomores

by Greg Melikov

posted on February 29, 2012 in Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, News, Other Events | No Comments >>

The 59th Gotham Stakes on Saturday has attracted a full field of 3-year-olds, including stakes winners Hansen, King and Crusader, Battle Hardened and Pretension.

Hansen Wins the 2011 Breeders' Cup JuvenileHansen, the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ, will attempt to rebound from his runner-up performance in Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull during which he almost fell breaking from the gate.

The son of Tapit will knock heads at Aqueduct with Battle Hardened, victorious in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, and the other two winners of minor stakes.

“We felt that the Gotham was a good spot and the timing was excellent,” Dr. Harvey Diamond, part-owner of Hansen along with Dr. Kendall Hansen, told “We just hope that on Gotham Day he will settle himself in the gate and show the Hansen that we all know he is.”

Since the Michael Maker trainee has done all his running in four outings on the front end, the big question is can rider Ramon Dominguez get him to rate at 1 1/16 miles?

Also coming out of the Holy Bull is Consortium, who finished last of six over a sloppy track on Jan. 29.

Raconteur, trained by Todd Pletcher, scored in his last two trips over Aqueduct’s inner track as did King and Crusader, who is 4 for 5. Other runners include My Adonis, third in the Holy Bull; Tiger Walk, third in the Withers.

There’s even a maiden likely to go – Suns Out Guns Out, no better than third in four races.

Missing from the field is Alpha, who captured the Withers, but is headed to the Wood Memorial on April 7.

Bumping up the purse of the Grade 3 a quarter-million dollars to $400,000 probably is responsible for the large field. Last year’s winner was Stay Thirsty, trained by Pletcher and ridden by Dominguez.

The Gotham has been a better indicator of what horse would capture the Wood Memorial than the Kentucky Derby since the 1970s. There were six Gotham-Wood winners in a nine-year span from ’88 through ’95.

The last Gotham winner to smell the roses was ’73 Triple Crown champ Secretariat. Since that time, nine repeated in the Wood Memorial, but not Secretariat – he finished third.

The last Gotham winner to triumph in the Wood was I Want Revenge in ’09. However, the son of Stephen Got Even was scratched on the morning of the Kentucky Derby because of a suspected injury that later proved to be ligament damage to his right front leg.