We move one week closer to the Kentucky Derby as the Derby trail makes its next stop at Aqueduct Race Track for the $250,000 Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. The field of nine includes Stay Thirsty, another three-year-old who is making his much anticipated sophomore debut. The last time we saw Stay Thirsty was in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile when he finished fifth behind his stable mate Uncle Mo. Todd Pletcher trains both colts for owner Mike Repole and has been training the pair together. The two turned in bullet works earlier this week when worked in tandem. If Stay Thirsty can keep up with Derby favorite Uncle Mo, he shouldn't have a problem with the lackluster field of the Gotham. However, this will be his first race in three months and he will have to go up against others with at least a recent race or two under their belts. He has been installed as the morning line favorite at 9/5.
Toby's Corner is likely Stay Thirsty's biggest obstacle. Trained by Graham Motion, Toby's Corner won the Whirlaway Stakes last month at Aqueduct and is undefeated in his last three starts. The speed figures and closing drive he's shown in his previous starts make him a dangerous competitor. Eddie Castro, who piloted Toby's Corner to a win in the Whirlaway, will be aboard again for the Gotham.
The only other previous stakes racers in the field are Preachintothedevil, who finished third in the Whirlaway Stakes behind Toby's Corner, and Nacho Saint, who finished second and fifth in a couple of stakes sprints last year. Each have shown some potential in their races this year, but the jury is still out on whether we'll still be talking about them in the coming months. Rounding out the field are The Fed Eased, Starship Caesar, Isn't He Perfect, Norman Asbjornson, and Dawly.
There's a lot of early speed in the race, so it will be interesting to see who will set the pace and who will either be able to keep up with the leader or mow him down at the top of the stretch. I'm putting my money on Toby's Corner and hoping that his 5-2 morning line odds will hold until race time.
The race, scheduled to run at 5:12 PM Saturday, is the 10th on Aqueduct's card and can be seen on TVG and HRTV. As always, we'll recap the race next week as we await the next Derby prep.