Four Aqueduct stakes races provide plenty of wagering possibilities
By Matt Shifman
Wagering possibilities abound at Aqueduct with the Grade 3 Gotham anchoring a Saturday card that includes four stakes. The Gotham, which is the third stop on the road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby, offers a purse of $300,000 and Derby qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 spread to the top four finishers.
Races 8 through 11 provide an all-stakes Pick 4 that begins with the six-furlong Tom Fool (G3) and features the 2018 winner Skyler’s Scramjet.
“He’s been training very well coming out of the Toboggan,” said trainer Michelle Nevin. “Although he went to the lead in that race, I don’t think he necessarily has to be up front. He’s also been effective coming from off the pace, so we’ll take a look at the field and where we draw before coming up with a game plan. We certainly know he likes the track and the distance, so we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
The Stymie, which is the second leg of the Pick 4, features the return to the races of Vino Rosso. The Todd Pletcher runner won the Wood Memorial (G2) on the Kentucky Derby trail last year. He was last seen running fifth in the Travers. Regular rider John Velazquez has the mount. The son of Curlin won both of his career starts at Aqueduct.
“He’s been training great coming into this race,” said Pletcher. “You can see he’s really matured well from last year. It will be an interesting distance for him. We know he’s 2-for-2 over the track having won as a maiden at seven furlongs and in the Wood at a mile and an eighth.”
The Gotham drew one of the strongest fields in many years with unbeaten Instagrand shipping to New York from California for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. He won both of his starts by 10-lengths and now makes his debut on the Kentucky Derby trail in the one-turn mile.
We think we have him prepared [for stretching out in distance],” said Hollendorfer. “We’re very happy to have Javier Castellano riding. I feel like our horse has speed and I think he can also rate if we have to.”
The Busher drew a full field of twelve 3-year-old fillies who are looking to gather points for the Kentucky Oaks in race 11 while going one mile. The field features the unbeaten filly Please Flatter Me who won all three of her starts by wide margins. The fast daughter of Munnings will be stretching out in distance in her first race in New York for trainer Mark Reid.
“You never know about two turns, but I’m very confident that in a mile around one turn, she’ll be murder because she has plenty of natural speed and will dial it down a notch anytime you ask her,” Reid said.
The Gotham and the Busher are also part this of Saturday’s Cross-Country Pick 5 that includes 2 races from Aqueduct and Tampa Bay Downs along with the finale from Oaklawn Park.
Leg 1 – Tampa Bay Downs, Race 10: Grade 3 Florida Oaks (4:57 p.m.)
Leg 2 – Aqueduct Racetrack, Race 10: Grade 3 Gotham (5:09 p.m.)
Leg 3 – Tampa Bay Downs, Race 11: Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby (5:29 p.m.)
Leg 4 – Aqueduct, Race 11: Busher Invitational (5:40 p.m.)
Leg 5 – Oaklawn Park, Race 9: Grade 3 Honeybee (6:09 p.m.)