Certainty Hard to Come By
By Dick Downey
The prospective field for the Gotham Stakes has been clear as mud the last few days.
Here's a comprehensive update that includes Instagrand. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfeer told DRF yesterday that the colt is will be shipped to New York for the Gotham, and Javier Castellano will ride. Here's more about that move.
"The distance of the race seems to be a better place to start going a one-turn mile rather than a mile and a sixteenth at Santa Anita. He's been off for a while," said Hollendorfer.
"He's training very nice," the trainer continued. "We think we have the horse good enough to run. He was always a well-meant horse, and Larry Best spent quite a bit of money for him and he's proven to be worth it."
Hollendorfer is in the Hall of Fame after training many top horses. When asked how Instagrand stacks up, he said. "I don't really like to compare horses. Each horse has their own individual way of learning and doing things, and we think that he's a very good prospect."
It was disclosed today that Much Better is on board for the Gotham. He was entered in Saturday's Pasadena Stakes on turf at Santa Anita, but he worked today and will be scratched.
Trainer Bob Baffert said, "We were thinking this might be a good race to stretch him back out and see his ability. I thought he ran solid in his last start and we'd really like to see what he can do at two turns. He's a Pioneerof the Nile and he has a lot of speed.
"Previously in the Sham when he went two turns, he seemed to be moving well and just came up a bit short towards the finish," continued Baffert. "He won his debut sprinting and then we tried him out on the turf, but he's shown us enough on the dirt where we want to give him another shot to stretch out, and at a mile this could be a good spot to do it."
Knicks Go is either probable or possible, depending on which day it is or what you read. Yesterday, DRF.com reported that Ben Colebrook said Knicks Go is definite for the Gotham. Today, the word from the NYRA press office isn't as, well, definite. Whether there was a lag in reporting what Colebrook told New York officials, we do not know.
"It's certainly a possibility that we enter for the Gotham," said Colebrook. "He's seemed to come out of the Sam F. Davis well. He's had one breeze since then that we were happy with, and he's remained healthy. We're still trying to pick our spots and find our way to the Derby."
Colebrook said the one-turn mile is appealing for his young charge.
"Obviously, cutting back to the mile for the Gotham could certainly work in his favor, but the race is also looking like it will come up real salty, so we'll weigh all of our options," the trainer said.
Swale Stakes second finisher Zenden, whose connections had targeted the Gotham, has defected.
"The work (today) went very well, but we're going to point to the Tampa Bay Derby," said trainer Victor Barboza, Jr. "He's been running very well for us. I thought his last race was very good. He possesses a lot of speed, but I think he'll be able to stretch out."
High Crime, who was fourth in the Swale for trainer Darrin Miller, is under consideration for the Gotham.
"We'll see how the weekend goes and make a decision after that," said Miller. "Facing winners for the first time I thought it was a real good effort. I thought he moved forward off of the maiden win as well. I hope he can handle stretching out. From what we've seen in the mornings, we've had no issues with him settling and covering a distance. His pedigree suggests it."
The prospective field for the Gotham has included included Jerome Stakes winner Mind Control and Jimmy Winkfield winner Haikal for some time now.
Not That Brady has been committed for an appreciable time but is reported to have a quarter-crack. However, he is still possible.
Swale Stakes winner Call Paul, who wasn't nominated to the Triple Crown, is said to be under consideration.
Others mentioned by the NYRA press office as possible are Federal Case, Spun to Run and Tikhvin Flew. Those three have been described as probable in other quarters. Stay tuned.