Saturday Selections for Laurel Park; Gotham at “The Big A” has local contenders

March 02, 2012 | Gary Quill

The Derby Trail heads north to the The Big Apple for its only graded stakes Derby prep race of the weekend, on Saturday (March 3rd) for the $400,000 Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct Race Track. Most Derby prep race schedules also show the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park, but this is not a graded stakes race. The pecking order for contenders who want to run in the 138th Kentucky Derby is based on graded-stakes race earnings. So running in non-graded stakes races 2 months before the Derby might indicate the ones running in the Turfway Park feature on Saturday aren’t considered to be Derby contenders or their connections don’t have a case of Derby Fever.

The Gotham Stakes is contested at 1 1/16 miles and features a crowded field of 13 runners, including the 2 year old Champion Hansen (#5 pictured below), who is listed as the 6-5 Morning Line favorite. The size of the field indicates that no one is scared off by the presence of the BC Juvenile winner.

Hansen

For many of the dozen who are taking on the champ, now is the time to determine whether they have legitimate talent to compete with the best 3 year olds in the country or will be returning to their home track to compete for less purses. One of those is #4 – Pretension (20-1). He’s trained by Chris Grove who last year discovered that Norman Asbjornson had above average talent, when he was 2nd in the Gotham at 47-1 then ran 4th in the Wood Memorial as a 26-1 longshot just behind Uncle Mo.

Another colt in the Gotham having ties to Maryland is #13 – Tiger Walk (12-1). Owned by Sagamore Farm (re: Kevin Plank, Under Armour CEO), Tiger Walk made his 2012 debut in the G3 Withers finishing 3rd to a top Derby contender, Alpha.

Even with a full field, there is a lack of speed capable of pressing Hansen early on, who without blinkers for the first time should not try to rate… that would be a huge tactical mistake against this group. It’s hard to imagine any scenario where Hansen finishes off the board (OTB), so use him with #1 – My Adonis (5-1), #6 – Dan And Sheila (8-1), #7 – Suns Out Guns Out (30-1) and 11 – Done Talking (20-1) in your exotic wagers.

The northeast should get enough precipitation on Friday evening into Saturday to cause the Aqueduct and Laurel Park ovals to be sealed and sloppy. Therefore, opinions on the Gotham and entire Laurel Park card for Saturday, March 3rd have taken this possibility into consideration.

Friday’s 8-race card picks resulted in just 1 Top Selection winner, but had the $2 Early Double ($30.40) and Late Double (412.40), $2 Exactas in 1st ($13.00), 2nd ($16.40), 4th ($28.40), 5th ($33.80) and 8th ($20.80) races as well as $1 Trifectas in 4th ($23.30) and 5th ($297.20) races. The BEST BET of the Day only managed 3rd ($2.10) at 8-5 and the LONGSHOT PICK went off 10-1 a game 2nd ($8.40 $5.20).

Opinions for the Laurel Park Saturday, March 3rd card are below.
1st race post is 12:35pm EST.

1st race – $10,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. – about 1 1/16 mile
#1/1A – Educator / Uncle Todd (6-5)
#3 – The Pack Is Back (3-1)
#2 – Fly’n Bayou (6-1)

2nd race – $7,500 Claiming NW2L for fillies and mares 4 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#1 – Rock With Me (6-5)
#6 – Robin’s Big Birdie (3-1)
#5 – Country Chic (7-2)

3rd race – $5,000 Claiming NW2L for 4 y.o. & up – about 1 1/16 mile
#3 – Dunraven Lad (5-2)
#7 – Grand And Glorious (20-1)
#8 – Sharp Start (12-1)

4th race – $33,000 Maiden Special Weight for fillies 3 y.o. – about 1 1/16 mile
#1 – Donttangowithmango (3-1)
#2 – Celtic Katie (5-2)
#6 – Virginia Ann (9-2)

5th race – $32,000 Optional Claiming N3X for 4 y.o. & up – 7 furlongs
#5 – Daddyroe (6-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PICK $$$
#1 – Delauney (2-1)
#6 – Paris Vegas (12-1)

6th race – $40,000 Maiden Claiming 3 y.o. – 6 furlongs
#2 – St. Johnswood (3-1) *** BEST BET ***
#4 – Misunderestimated (5-2)
#8 – Blue Mountain Cat (6-1)

7th race – $100,000 Wide Country Stakes for fillies 3 y.o. – 7 furlongs
#4 – Millionreasonswhy (8-5)
#5 – Dance To Bristol (5-2)
#2 – Officer’s Holiday (30-1)

8th race – $50,000 Optional Claiming N$Y for 4 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#4 – My Cuz (5-2)
#5 – Kens Cape (7-5)
#3 – Congressional Page (2-1)

9th race – $25,000 Maiden Claiming for fillies & mares 3 y.o. & up – 7 furlongs
#4 – Distorted Disciple (5-1)
#1 – Ottauquechee (20-1)
#3 – Hildegarde (5-2)

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