02/28/2013 5:09PM

Gotham Stakes: Overanalyze gets started on Kentucky Derby trail


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – On the road to the Kentucky Derby, Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct shapes up as a starting point for Overanalyze and a proving ground for his 11 rivals.

Overanalyze is one of just two graded stakes winners in the field, having ended his 2-year-old season with a nose victory in the Grade 2 Remsen over Aqueduct’s main track last Nov. 24, his last start.

Vyjack heads the list of challengers, having won all three of his starts including the Grade 2 Jerome on Jan. 5 over Aqueduct’s inner track. He skipped the Withers on Feb. 2 to await this spot. Withers winner Revolutionary is in south Florida, but Withers second-through-fifth-place finishers Escapefromreality, Siete de Oros, Amerigo Vespucci, and the maiden Champion Boy have returned.

Add in shippers Sky Captain and Ore Pass as well as a trio of maiden winners from Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn –Transparent, Now and Then, and Elnaawi – and the New York-bred stakes winner West Hills Giant and you have a pretty diverse cast.

The Gotham, run at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track, will go as race 10 on an 11-race program that also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool at six furlongs and the Grade  2, $200,000 Top Flight for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

[GOTHAM STAKES: Get PPs, watch video handicapping previews]

The Gotham offers 85 qualifying points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5) toward the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

By virtue of his victory in the Remsen, Overanalyze has 10 points to get into the Derby. Overanalyze, trained by Todd Pletcher for Mike Repole – the same connections as 2011 Gotham winner Stay Thirsty – arrived Wednesday afternoon from south Florida, where he has been working regularly since Jan. 13.

“He’s grown up a bit, he’s filled out a bit, he’s physically improved, he’s training well,” Pletcher said by phone. “We’ve had this race circled on the calendar for a long time. Thankfully, everything has gone according to plan until they drew the post positions.”

Overanalyze drew post 12 for the Gotham, which has a short run into the first turn. Hansen won last year’s Gotham from post 12 in a 13-horse field.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

“The way I look at it is I’ve had horses get really good trips from bad post positions and really bad trips from good post positions,” Pletcher said. “Sometimes, it works out. The horse is pretty professional away from the starting gate; we got Johnny [Velazquez] on board who knows how to get in the right position into the first turn.”

At 123 pounds, Overanalyze is co-highweight with Vyjack, who is undefeated in three starts for David Wilkenfeld’s Pick Six Racing and trainer Rudy Rodriguez.

Vyjack passed his first two-turn test when he held off Siete de Oros to win the Jerome by a neck. In the race, Vyjack was a bit headstrong and attempted to bear out under Cornelio Velasquez. Wilkenfeld has made a switch to Joel Rosario, while Rodriguez has been attempting to get Vyjack to relax in the mornings.

“In the mornings, we try to do the best we can, but in the race it’s different,” Rodriguez said. “When they come out of the gate, it’s a different kind of game, but he’s doing everything we ask of him.”

With several sprinters stretching out in this race, it would appear Rosario could get Vyjack behind horses, but Rodriguez said he will leave the tactics up to the jockey.

“If they give him the lead, I think he’ll be good on the lead,” Rodriguez said. “If they don’t, I think he can sit.”

Escapefromreality was beaten a neck by Revolutionary in the Grade  3 Withers last month while finishing nearly two lengths clear of the rest of the field. It was an encouraging effort from the New York-bred son of Read the Footnotes, who was coming out of two sprints.

“He’s training very well, he’s doing everything we’ve asked of him going into this race,” trainer Dominick Schettino said. “I hope he runs very well.”

Journeyman David Cohen replaces apprentice Jose Ortiz on Escapefromreality, who breaks from post 2.

Transparent, Now and Then, and Elnaawi are extremely well-bred horses coming out of maiden wins into graded company for the McLaughlin barn. Now and Then was entered for an allowance race Sunday that failed to fill. He is still questionable to run Saturday.

Transparent, a son of Bernardini, has run well in two starts since getting blinkers. Jockey Junior Alvarado suggested the equipment when Transparent finished fourth behind Orb last November. Transparent won a maiden race here by 5  3/4 lengths on Jan. 26, despite being carried out extremely wide when another horse bolted entering the backstretch.

Elnaawi, a half-brother to Grade  1 winner To Honor and Serve, comes off a four-length maiden win in his last start. McLaughlin had him entered in a first-level allowance race Feb. 9, but that card was canceled due to snow.

“He’s quite a talented horse, very well bred, but this is a big step up,” McLaughlin said.

Mark Casse scratched Sky Captain from last weekend’s Fountain of Youth after his horse drew an outside post. Also, Casse didn’t think his horse cared too much for the Gulfstream surface after finishing fifth in a sprint Dec. 15 and second in a route Jan. 26.

Casse said that Sky Captain “trains as good as any horse I’ve ever trained,” but he has yet to put it all together in the afternoons. Miguel Mena rides.

Siete de Oros was third in the Withers after dueling on the early lead from the inside. Saturday, he will be reunited with Angel Arroyo.

Amerigo Vespucci was fourth in the Withers after a wide trip and getting bumped at the three-sixteenths pole.

Ore Pass has won 2 of 3 starts and makes his two-turn debut after winning the Frank Whitely Stakes at Laurel going seven furlongs Jan.  19.

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

michael More than 1 year ago
Vyjack, 2/1.? Was it really that apparent? Inner track expert, derby? Please.
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
Stab...Amerigo Vespucci
WILL More than 1 year ago
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Will.... will you quit being so crass please? Illman is the one with the gig at DRF and not us. Have you ever picked a winner.. is that a thing to say?!!
FLASHBACK More than 1 year ago
Elnaawi and Normandy Invasion are very similar horses and have good breeding to go the classic distance. Normandy Invasion had traffic problems at the Fair Grounds last race and could have won that race. Here in the Gotham, Elnaawi can win this race if he stays clear. Elnaawi is my pick here to win at pretty decent odds. If you want to make some money in the Gotham, play the #8 horse. Good luck to all.Mike from Michigan.
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
Since 1985 the Gotham has produced 25 Derby starters with 0 wins 2 seconds and 0 thirds yet it is worth 50 Derby points. In the same time period the BC Juvenile has produced 73 Derby starters with 5 wins 5 seconds and 7 thirds yet is worth only 10 Derby points.
zkid9914 More than 1 year ago
That will change now. Better horses will be going to the Gotham.
Sam More than 1 year ago
I agree with you about the Gotham, but I believe CD is right by downgrading the BC Juvinile because the BC gives the winner so much $$ that the winner is automatically in the Derby. CD wants to put more emphasis on 3 yr. olds that are coming into their own at Derby time.
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
What if a horse neeeds time when hurt or is a late bloomer. Many horses will be FORCED to win a race at a CERTAIN TIME AND PLACE, rather than just get into the right money situation that the trainer/owner feels will give them best chance later on in the Derby. NO ONE should dictact what races a horse can race in. Id anything the powers that be should rate ALL GRADED RACES withe same points throughout the timeline, thereby allowing horses to mature or peak or blossom at the timeline the connection feel is right.
Sam More than 1 year ago
I respect your opinion, but I think the Derby is trying to present the best horses on the first Saturday in May.
michael More than 1 year ago
They can't do it with inner track races winners.
Kim Lee More than 1 year ago
the gelded BEAST for the $$$...have FUN like me
Victor Zavala More than 1 year ago
Sam More than 1 year ago
And the Derby is becoming a farce. With 20 entrants, it's more like a cavalry charge. Horses that can't keep on a straight course and knock the hell out of others never get DQ'd. Only one horse in the races history has beenDQ'd and that was for having had bute in him, and that took over a year before it was made official.The fact that Dancer's Image split horses and practically knock Forward Pass off his hooves didn't matter.
Matthew More than 1 year ago
Certainly, Pioneer of the Nile shoulda been DQ'd from second to fourth a few years ago...he ran sideways in the stretch and took the others with him, it was unbelievable they didn't even look at it.
Sam More than 1 year ago
How in the world can you handicap a race where some haven't raced for months, or are coming off of maiden races, or haven't raced very well, but claim excuses?
Marc Strews More than 1 year ago
I love Ore Pass has my first pick is coming off a victory in the non-graded Frank Whiteley Stakes in January at Laurel Park, but he has never run more than seven furlongs. this will be a stiff test for the three-year-old colt. He has two wins in three starts, but he also has a fifth-place run in an allowance race at Philadelphia Park.So watch the tote and play the odds. my second pick is Transparent finally won his maiden on his sixth attempt, the last three of which came at Aqueduct. He is another horse from the McLaughlin stable and probably isn’t highly regarded, so don’t expect a lot out of this colt, but you never know what will happen in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. My third and final pick Siete De Oros has made three starts and the past two have been in graded-stakes races, most recently, a third-place run in the Withers. The other was in a handicap race, which isn’t a fair indication of how he’ll do on Saturday, but this may be a horse betting longshot to watch as he and trainer Ramon Preciado seem to be willing to put in the work.