Rebounds from Dull Holy Bull
By Dick Downey
Godolphin Racing's homebred Enticed closed from the outside to win the one-turn, one-mile Gotham Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths, earning enough points to start in the Kentucky Derby.
From the gate, Maryland shipper Old Time Revival set the early pace while Cove Blue, one of two sent by trainer Dale Romans, sat close in company with Nine Route to his outside. The trio led the way while Enticed, who broke from the outside post 9, remained outside under Junior Alvarado. The 9-5 favorite Free Drop Billy, ridden by Dylan Davis, settled well behind with only Whereshetoldmetogo beat through the early going. After an opening quarter-mile in 23.14, Free Drop Billy began a steady advance with Firenze Fire, the 5-2 second wagering choice, ahead of him in sixth.
Old Time Revival took the field through a half-mile in 46.43 and continued to look strong as Enticed began to make a run. Into the stretch, Enticed swooped outside, and the 4 1/2-length margin once held by the leader after six furlongs in 1:11.77 began to diminish. Enticed won going away in a time of 1:38.24.
Free Drop Billy, who was scratched from the Fountain of Youth Stakes last week in favor of a run in the Gotham, came up short, beaten 6 3/4 lengths. In fourth was Firenze Fire, followed by Whereshetoldmetogo, Cove Blue, Nine Route, Beautiful Shot and Dial Operator to complete the order of finish.
Enticed began 2018 with a dull, non-threatening fourth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes after being on the rail much of the way, so the win today was a big form reversal after a new running style was employed.
The Grade III Gotham was Enticed's second graded stakes victory. He captured the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs by a head last November. That win closed out his 2-year-old campaign after he had broken his maiden in the mud at Saratoga and sandwiched a hard-fought third in the Champagne Stakes between those two victories.
Runner-up Old Time Revival, a son of Brethren who was sent off at 35-1, was vanned up from Laurel Park on Friday morning bringing with him just a maiden victory and a second-place finish in the Miracle Wood after he was caught to miss by a neck at the wire. He was ridden by Jeremy Rose after his regular jockey stayed in Maryland.
Enticed's Gotham victory awarded him 50 Derby points, pushing his total to 63, way more than he needs to make the race. With his second-place finish Old Time Revival earned 20 Derby points. Free Drop Billy now has 24 points after getting 10 in the Gotham, and Firenze Fire's five points upped his total to 29.
The question of the moment for winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is whether to ship Enticed back to McLaughlin's Florida training base or stay in New York in preparation for a possible start in the Wood Memorial on April 7.
Enticed, sent off at 3-1, returned $8.80 on a $2 win bet.
By Medaglia d'Oro, Enticed is out of the Mineshaft mare It's Tricky. He was bred in Kentucky.
Kiaran McLaughlin, winning trainer of Enticed: "It worked out great. Junior rode a great race. The 'clean-faced' plan worked out well. It was a great run and everything went perfect. We'll talk to Jimmy Bell and hopefully look at the Wood Memorial. I've got to talk to Jimmy about bringing him back down here (to Palm Meadows) and train and then fly him back for the Wood Memorial. He did well down here in Florida."
Junior Alvarado, winning jockey: "He broke good. I wanted to make sure to be a little close, but I felt the first part of the race we were going a little fast for the way the track was playing today. I wanted to make sure I kept him clear on the outside, I didn't want to get him in trouble at all because he's a horse that takes a while to get going. As soon as we turned for home, I knew it was just a matter of time when he switched leads for him to give me that next gear. As soon as he started moving along again he was much the best horse today. He's fine with two turns. I already won with him at Churchill around two turns, and he was completely fine. We had a rough trip at Churchill and he handled all that."
Jimmy Bell, president of winning owner Godolphin USA: "That's the Enticed we thought we had last year, ending up on such a high note with the Jockey Club at Churchill last year. You come back with high expectations over the winter and wanting to get off to a good start. We came out with more questions than answers in the Florida race. We'd like to say we can draw a line through it, but today was impressive. You have to make your own way around there and he really needed to show us something today which obviously did in fine colors. Very professional and we're very pleased. Still learning, he's a big boy, but this is the time of the year you start graduating and he probably made it to his next level. We'll certainly sit down and assess where we'll run next. He certainly enjoys New York."
Kenneth Decker, runner-up trainer of Old Time Revival: "He ran a nice race, he's learning and he's getting better and better every time. We came back a little quick out of the last race, it was three weeks. He ran a nice race and we'll see how he comes out of it and go from there. That was his race. You have to let him run his race and let him get out there and get comfortable. We tried to rate him a couple of races back and he just showed us that he can get out there and get his pace. He's going to keep getting better and we'll just keep stretching him out. He handles all the challenges and he's just been a nice colt to work with."
Jeremy Rose, jockey aboard Old Time Revival: "It was perfect. I broke good. I tried to stay off of Dale Romans' horse (Cove Blue) a little bit, but my horse is awfully quick. Then he relaxed well, but he got out a little bit at the top of the lane, which I think cost us the race. But, he's a very nice horse."
Dale Romans, trainer of third-place finisher and beaten favorite Free Drop Billy: "We got 10 points today. If he belongs, we'll have enough points to get there. Right now, that should be enough. He still has to come back and run well next time. I think he ran a clean trip. There was some good things to see, but I wanted him to win. I thought he would win. He ran in the end away from the horse coming for fourth down the lane. That was good and he kept on going. Looked like he galloped out strong. Two turns would probably be better. We'll take him back to Florida and probably go to the Blue Grass. He's already a grade 1 winner there (at Keeneland), but we'll go from there."
Dylan Davis, aboard Free Drop Billy: "This was my first time on him. The more ground he gets, the better he gets. That was the main focus. Speed was pretty good today. I thought he ran an honest race. (His early position) was more of him being comfortable and after that you just go from there. He's going to be a much tougher horse (going longer)."