02/08/2010 1:00AM

Peppi Knows eyes Gotham


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It is unlikely you'll find Peppi Knows on anyone's list of Kentucky Derby contenders, but the gelding's 3-year-old debut in Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct was encouraging enough to his connections to give him the opportunity to join the Triple Crown trail.

Coming off his one-length victory in the Whirlaway - a race noted more for the apparent equipment malfunction of the favorite Eightyfiveinafifty - Peppi Knows is expected to return to New York on March 6 for the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham Stakes. The Gotham, like the Whirlaway, is run at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track.

Trainer Tim Kreiser said Peppi Knows came out of the Whirlaway a little tired and with a cut on his left hind foot, known as a grabbed quarter, presumably from being stepped on by Eightyfiveinafifty. But Kreiser did not think the issue would result in much lost training time.

Peppi Knows, who ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.10 - there was a strong headwind down the backstretch - received a Beyer Speed Figure of 86 for the Whirlaway. It was the first start for Peppi Knows since he finished second to Buddy's Saint in the Grade 2 Remsen over Aqueduct's main track last Nov. 28. Overall, Peppi Knows is 4 for 6 with a third-place finish to the highly regarded Noble's Promise in the Fitz Dixon Memorial Juvenile at Presque Isle Downs.

When Eightyfiveinafifty bolted entering the first turn of the Whirlaway, it changed the complexion of the race. Papa's Nice Cat became the speed, and Peppi Knows, under Richard Migliore, sat slightly off of him before poking a head in front at the five-sixteenths pole. Peppi Knows opened up a 2 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole, but either tired or got to loafing late.

"He's definitely got to show more," Kreiser said from his base at Penn National. "Basically he does all he has to. He's never going to run a sparkling race as far as going off and win by 10. He likes the competition too much. If you saw the race, when he got in front you could sees his ears come up.''

Kreiser noted that Peppi Knows acted better around the gate than he had as a 2-year-old and that he didn't attempt to lug in during the Whirlaway as he had in previous races, including the Remsen

"He's really come along the last two months as far as all that," said Kreiser, who trains Peppi Knows for Philip Messina. "He's definitely been more professional; he keeps improving. As the competition gets tougher we'll see if he gets tougher."

Eightyfiveinafifty 'dodged a bullet'

While Peppi Knows is targeting the Gotham, there are no definitive plans regarding Eightyfiveinafifty, who after blowing the turn unseated jockey Jorge Chavez, crashed or hurdled two rails, and got loose in the barn area before being apprehended by a guard near the stable gate.

Trainer Gary Contessa said the horse needed 14 stitches to repair a wound in his right-hind leg, but that otherwise the horse was sound. He said Eightyfiveinafifty will be out of training for one week.

"The bottom line is we dodged a bullet," Contessa said. "The horse is okay, he'll be back training in a week. I'm not even going to speculate in what direction he's being pointed anymore. It's going to depend on how much time I lose, how his wound heals, how his brain handles what happened. Does this start a new issue with him? How much does he remember what he did in that turn? I have to get him mentally over this and physically over it, but he will definitely live to fight again.''

Super Saver possible for Gotham

Attempting to split up his bevy of 3-year-olds, trainer Todd Pletcher could send Super Saver to the Gotham.

"Timing-wise that could work out," Pletcher said Monday from south Florida.

Super Saver, five-length winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill on Nov. 28, is also under consideration for the Rebel at Oaklawn on March 13. Pletcher had considered the Gotham for Overcommunication or Three Day Rush, but both may need to lower their sights coming off disappointing performances last Saturday.

Super Saver, who worked a half-mile Sunday in 48.20 seconds at Palm Meadows in Florida, is penciled in to have two prep races before the Kentucky Derby, Pletcher said.

Bush entry heads feature

Though Aqueduct dodged last weekend's snowstorm that dumped two feet of snow in the Mid-Atlantic region, another storm is setting its sights on the area for Wednesday, which could jeopardize the scheduled nine-race card.

If it is run, the feature is a second-level allowance sprint for New York-bred fillies and mares. Trainer Tom Bush sends out the coupled entry of Not a Peep and Mighty Eros and plans to run both.

Both mares have had fractured shoulders. Not a Peep has come back from hers with two wins and a narrow neck loss at this level on Jan. 20. Mighty Eros suffered hers late in her 4-year-old year. She has not raced since October 2008.

"She's always had talent, and she still shows it to me," Bush said of Mighty Eros. "She's a little quirkier to train than she used to be, but her talent is definitely there."

Not a Peep looms the main speed in the field under Anna Napravnik.

Banged-up riders set to go

If there is racing Wednesday, jockeys Jorge Chavez and Richard Migliore are both expected to ride. Chavez was body-sore following the incident aboard Eightyfiveinafifty and took off his lone mount Sunday.

Migliore took off his final two mounts Sunday after being unseated by National Pride, who stumbled at the start of the third race. Migliore landed on his feet and jammed his knee, according to agent Tommy Cordero.

* Gabriel Saez begins serving a three-day careless riding suspension on Wednesday. Saez was cited by the stewards for careless riding in Friday's third race aboard Friendly Wager, who got disqualified from first for interfering with Allrightsreserved.