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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Samraat Makes Early Return, Leads Gotham Field


By Dick Downey

Maybe he's kicking down his stall. Whatever the reason, Rick Violette, Jr. is not waiting on the Wood Memorial or the Louisiana Derby or anything else for Samraat. The undefeated colt will shoot for his fifth straight victory in the Gotham Stakes.

In the aftermath of Samraat's win in the Feb. 1 Withers Stakes, Violette's initial reaction was to give him plenty of time -- with a proviso. "If he's kind of kicking the walls down he can certainly come back for the Gotham." the trainer said. "Or we can wait for the Wood or the Louisiana Derby. There are a lot of options."

Violette has opted for the earlier option and will send Samraat in against 10 others in the $500,000 Gotham.The son of Noble Causeway recently breezed a mile at Palm Meadows.

The winner will be awarded 50 points under the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" point system. In all, 85 points are at stake.

Samraat seeks to add a third win on Aqueduct's inner track. He chalked up a 16 3/4-length romp in the Damon Runyon before defeating Uncle Sigh by a length in the Withers, his first start in open company.

"There's no question more racing will help him," said Violette. "If we're lucky enough to make it to the Derby, we felt two races would be the way to go, and Mr. (Leonard) Riggio felt strongly about that. In the Gotham, we'll be racing out of our own stall on a race track he's familiar with. It's an upgrade as far as competition goes. He has to step up, but if you watched the prep races over the weekend, there were a few horses who stepped up and a lot who didn't."

Regular rider Jose Ortiz returns on Samraat, who will be coupled in the wagering with the Wesley Ward-trained Noble Cornerstone. Riggio's My Meadowview Farms owns both.

Violette also trains Financial Mogul, who finished sixth in the Holy Bull Stakes and has been training at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland since. He reportedly exited the Holy Bull with a lung problem.
Today, Uncle Sigh breezed a half-mile in :46.90 for the Gotham and will have Corey Nakatani aboard for the first time.

"I'm super pleased with the way he's coming into the race," said trainer Gary Contessa.. "I was hoping for a good post position because it can play a big part in the landscape of this race. He's trained good, had a good work this morning, and we'll see what happens."

Deceived joins Samraat, Uncle Sigh and Noble Cornerstone as one of four NewYork-breds in the race. He was third in the Damon Runyon and most recently defeated state-breds by 8 1/4 lengths.

Todd Pletcher, who won the 2011 Gotham with Stay Thirsty and the 2007 edition with Cowtown Cat, will saddle Harpoon, most recently second in the Sam F. Davis; Master Lightning, fourth behind fellow Gotham entrant Extrasexyhippzster in the Miracle Wood at Laurel Park; and Monopolize, who was sixth in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park last time out. Pletcher said Monopolize is 50-50 to run. He was scratched from an Allowance Optional Claiming race at the track Friday. Harpoon drew the outside post 11.

"Normally I wouldn't like the outside draw him, but after his last race from post position 1, I would say it's a good post position for him," said Pletcher. "We're hoping Master Lightning shows up with his 'A' game. He's shown in the past he's capable, but he's been a bit erratic. This would be a good time for him to show up."

Miracle Wood winner Extrasexyhippzster took the Don Rickles on Dec. 21 in his lone New York appearance.

In Trouble comes in from a September layoff. He won both starts as a juvenile, including the Futurity at Belmont Park. It's his first rodeo at two turns. Trainer Tony Dutrow said you never know until you try.

"I don't know, but I feel good about trying it," said Dutrow. "He's excellent; he's really, really happy. I feel the horse is ready to give us what he's got Saturday."

Classic Giacnroll was second in the Jerome to Noble Moon and a distant fourth in the Withers.

Saturday, R9
Grade III Gotham Stakes
1 1/16 Mile
Post Time: 4:17 ET

Post   Horse  ML  Jockey Sx  Wt Trainer
1 In Trouble (KY) 6-1 J. Rocco Jr. C 120 A. Dutrow
2 Financial Mogul (KY) 10-1 S. Bridgmohan C 116 R. Violette Jr.
3 Uncle Sigh (NY) 3-1 C. Nakatani C 116 C. Contessa
4 Noble Cornerstone (NY) 5-2 K. Desormeaux G 116 W. Ward
5 Monopolize (KY) 20-1 C. DeCarlo R 116 T. Pletcher
6 Deceived (NY) 15-1 R. Maragh C 116 L. Gyarmati
7 Classic Giacnroll (KY) 20-1 M. Franco C 116 L. Guerrero
8 Samraat (NY) 5-2 J. Ortiz C 123 R. Violette Jr.
9 Extrasexyhippzster (PA) 4-1 J. Pimentel C 123 M. Trombetta
10 Master Lightning (PA) 20-1 C. Velasquez C 116 T. Pletcher
11 Harpoon (KY) 10-1 I. Ortiz Jr. C 116 T. Pletcher

All will run with Lasix.

A - Coupled Entries - Noble Cornerstone, Samraat

Equipment Changes: 4 - Noble Cornerstone - Blinkers On; 5 - Monopolize - Blinkers On

Owners: 1 - Team D ; 2 - Klaravich Stables, Inc. and Lawrence, William H. ; 3 - Wounded Warrior Stables and Robertson, Anthony C. ; 4 - My Meadowview Farm ; 5 - Repole Stable ; 6 - Treadway Racing Stable ; 7 - Besecker, Joseph E. and Guerrero, Lisa ; 8 - My Meadowview Farm ; 9 - Kirwan, Michael G. and Hipps, Edward ; 10 - Cook, Alan R. and Pratt, Larry ; 11 - Let's Go Stable

Breeders: 1 - Joseph Duffel; 2 - Atlas Farm et al; 3 - Milfer Farm Inc.; 4 - My Meadowview LLC; 5 - G. Watts Humphrey Jr.; 6 - Dr. William B. Wilmot &Dr. Joan M. Taylor; 7 - Dermot Joyce; 8 - My Meadowview LLC; 9 - Toni M. Kirwan & Edward Hipps; 10 - Michael Joseph Cascio; 11 - Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC


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