Road To Kentucky Derby Standings: Wide Open Field For Gotham Stakes

Written By Dave Bontempo on March 3, 2023
road to kentucky derby

It’s going to be a crowded Saturday at Aqueduct in yet another key race on the road to the Kentucky Derby. The $300,000 Gotham Stakes has drawn a bulging field of 14 — four more than last year — for its one-turn, 1-mile Derby prep race.

Fifty qualifying points, good for an invitation to the May 6 Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, awaits the winner. Twenty points for second will either get the runner-up in or on the verge of Derby qualification.

Post time is 4:56 p.m. ET.  Bettors can access all the action via FanDuel TV.

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No Clear Favorite

The perception of parity helps drive this large field, comprised of local horses and one of the better infusion of shippers in recent years. The odds are as wide open as it gets. They will be final at post time, per parimutuel rules.

Let’s take a look at the field and notes on every horse.

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Gotham Stakes Field

PostHorseTrainerJockeyMorning-line Odds
1Clear the AirWilliam WaldenJack Gilligan30-1
2HowgreatisnateAndrew Simoff J.D. Acosta10-1
3Mr. SwaggerJuan Carlos AvilaCarlos Olivero10-1
4UncorrelatedChad BrownManny Franco10-1
5Carmel RoadTim YakteenEric Cancel6-1
6General BankerJames FerraroFrankie Pennington30-1
7TransectPaulo LoboJoseph Talamo15-1
8Fort WarrenBrittany RussellJevian Toledo12-1
9ClubhouseTodd PletcherKendrick Carmouche20-1
10Lugan KnightMichael McCarthyDylan Davis6-1
11Slip MahoneyBrad CoxTrevor McCarthy5-1
12Raise CainBen ColebrookJose Lezcano30-1
13Eyeing CloverBrad CoxFlorent Geroux4-1
14RecruiterCathal LynchAngel Cruz12-1
15*Radio RedDanny GarganJose Antonio Gomez50-1
  • *Also eligible. Will only enter if another horse is scratched.

Clear the Air (30-1)

  • Also listed as an alternate for the $150,000 John Battaglia at Turfway Park, where he has been running and may be a better fit. One showing at this distance and it was a fourth in lower stakes.

Howgreatisnate (10-1)

  • So far, so great. Has four races and four wins. All were at Delaware Park and Parx Racing. All were sprints. That pattern usually doesn’t fit well moving to Aqueduct, but connections think they have a special horse and will break him into the 1-mile realm with Aqueduct’s one-turn layout.

Mr. Swagger (10-1)

  • Made his debut a winning one at 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct in maiden special weights. Ambitious move up to a significant stakes, but did pass his first test. Nice opening effort. He stalked smartly, had tight positioning and outran rivals to the wire.

Uncorrelated (10-1)

  • Showed good determination winning debut at six furlongs in January at this track. Ridden patiently by Manny Franco and was much the best when he got in front.
  • Here is something correlated. This win got Franco off to a record-tying six-victory day Jan. 6 at Aqueduct.
  • Probably in the wrong spot, but the combo of Franco and trainer Chad Brown bodes well for Uncorrelated moving forward.

Carmel Road (6-1)

  • Excellent effort in the Los Alamitos Futurity, setting the pace and gaining a hard-fought second to Practical Move.
  • Class by association. Practical Move is one of the favorites in the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on the same day Carmel Road runs here. He belongs. If he gets to the front again, the switch to one turn at Aqueduct will help him.

General Banker (30-1)

  • Looms as a bottom of the exotics play. Distant third in the Jerome and Withers Stakes, but made determined effort late in both. Has to chase Lugan Knight, who beat him handily in the Jerome.

Transect (15-1)

  • Always have to like a son of Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year. Strong debut at Turfway Park, rallying from several lengths back to win at 6 1/2 furlongs and was much the best.
  • This is a substantial move up. May be too much, but keep an eye on him going forward. Could be a strong play at lower race levels.

Fort Warren (12-1)

  • Curious placement here. Distant third in a four-horse San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita. Comes up in class and stretches out in a large field.

Clubhouse (20-1)

  • Handily beaten second in the $100,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes in a slow time. This is a major step up against better horses.

Lugan Knight (6-1)

  • Excellent victory in the $150,000 Jerome over a similar layout.
  • It was the Dylan Davis difference. Determined ride by Aqueduct’s wins and earnings leader propelled Lugan Knight to the wire just ahead of Arctic Arrogance after tremendous stretch duel.
  • Davis is back on him. He makes sense.

Slip Mahoney (5-1)

  • Gains points for a 1-mile victory at Aqueduct back in January. It was roughly a second behind Lugan Knight’s final time in the Jerome, but a win at the track and distance is a major plus.
  • It was only his third effort and he figures to improve, but Dylan Davis, who guided that victory, moves to Lugan Knight.

Raise Cain (30-1)

  • Could be a candidate for the minors. This is his Aqueduct debut and he’s winless in stakes races, but manages to hit the board in some of them.
  • Would need some things to break right.

Eyeing Clover (4-1)

  • Two sprint victories at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn. The combo of Brad Cox and Florent Geroux is always respected, although this is a significant jump to better company and a longer race.

Recruiter (12-1)

  • Love this progression: victories at five, 5 1/2, six and seven furlongs in consecutive races. Burned up the circuit at Monmouth Park, Laurel and Delaware Park.
  • Hasn’t been the distance and faced highest level, but has also looked to be on a different level versus competition. I am putting a mark on him for the future, regardless of where he ends up here.
  • Outside post does him no favors here, but at least it’s only one turn.

Radio Red (50-1)

  • Not much of a case to be made in this field. Comes off a six-furlong maiden victory at Aqueduct in slow time.

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Gotham Stakes Betting Tips

Pace Considerations

Early speed should come from several shippers entering from sprint races.

Lugan Knight and Carmel Road figure to stalk and take their best shot around the final turn. That’s what victorious Morelo did last year, and a pair of closing longshots rounded out the exotics.

Speed goes a little further here than in two-turn ovals at this distance and thus one of the frontrunners might stay in the exotics picture.

Picking A Winner

You need an angle to wager into. Mine will be that the Aqueduct familiarity of Lugan Knight and the class of Carmel Road is worth a stab. I’ll take small win bet on Lugan Knight and an exacta box with Carmel Road. I will use some combo of the 11, 7, 2 and 14 underneath and perhaps take one trifecta box, 5-10-11.

There will be good prices on the win line, so banging that bet and only dabbling in the exotics looks like a good way to go.

Enjoy this race and good luck in this latest road to Kentucky Derby race!

Remainder of Road To The Kentucky Derby Schedule

The Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule began in September. However, the win-and-in races began Feb. 18 with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. That was the first race that awards 50 points to the winner. Below is the race schedule for the 50 and 100-point prep races, enough for the race winners to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, if entered.

Be sure to read our other previews for this weekend’s three-year-old season:

RaceTrackDatePoints For Top Finishers
Florida DerbyGulfstream ParkApr 1, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Arkansas DerbyOaklawn ParkApr 1, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Wood MemorialAqueductApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Blue GrassKeenelandApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Santa Anita DerbySanta Anita ParkApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10

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Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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