2019 Gotham Stakes Picks
Event: Gotham Stakes-G3, Aqueduct
When: Race 10, Saturday, March 9, 2019
Distance: 1 Mile. Surface: Dirt. Purse: $300,000
2019 Gotham Stakes Picks
- Knicks Go
- Mind Control
Gotham Stakes Analysis
The 2019 Gotham Stakes is a tough race to figure out. Numerous horses want the lead, and most are unproven without it, which makes it a total guessing game.
The most talented horse in the field is Instagrand, who also gets arguably the best jockey in the race in Javier Castellano. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Instagrand is a perfect 2-for-2 including a runaway 10 ¼-length victory in the Best Pal Stakes-G2 at Del Mar last August.
Instagrand looks like he has enough work in him to get the mile of the Gotham and Hollendorfer is certainly capable off the layoff. The only real drawback with this horse is his short price. We have to pick him on top because he looks like the best horse, but he does have a few questions to answer. What happens if he doesn’t get the lead? Will he rate? At a short price, you might want to bet someone with fewer questions and better odds.
Knicks Go could be the horse that goes unnoticed in the Gotham based on his most recent start in the Sam F. Davis-G3 going 1 1/16-miles at Tampa Bay in his first start off a long layoff. He tracked the pace in perfect position in that race and faded to fifth, beaten 13 lengths while looking like a very short horse. His workout pattern before that race would suggest he was, but…
A gutsy second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1 last year after winning the Breeders’ Futurity-G1 at Keeneland in wire-to-wire fashion, Knicks Go’s final start as a 2-year-old was also a fading eleventh-place finish in the slop at Keeneland in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes-G2.
It’s difficult to know whether there’s something not right with Knicks Go or whether he was just a tired horse on both occasions. Listed at 12-1 on the morning line, with the right kind of ride he could actually get a perfect trip in the Gotham behind a duel. He’s already proved he can be a tough customer when right, as he was in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and his odds should be enticing.
Haikal may be the play based on the fact that he’ll probably stalk a duel in here and he knows how to win. He’s won his last two starts by a neck, and he’s also a proven fighter. His numbers are slightly below a couple in here, but he’s close, and heart can overcome talent with a perfect trip. He might just get that at a price that should be 4-1 or better.
Mind Control is interesting at 9/2 on the morning line with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons, but his game is speed. He won the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct going the Gotham distance after dueling early when last seen on January 19, and he also won the Hopeful Stakes-G1 at Saratoga last year going seven furlongs on the front end. His only poor performance came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after a poor start.
Much Better is a California shipper for trainer Bob Baffert, and he also looks like he wants the lead. He gets a top jockey in Mike Smith, but his numbers are also lower than most in here as he makes his third start off the layoff.
Family Biz would be another to take advantage of a duel in the Gotham as an off-the-pace type, but he’s finished behind Haikal, Tikhvin Flew and Mind Control in his last three starts, and he just doesn’t appear to be moving forward at this point.
The race sets up with Mind Control, Much Better, Not That Brady, Instagrand and Tikhvin Flew attempting to get the lead. Knicks Go should tuck in just behind that group followed by Haikal, with Family Biz at the back of the field. Instagrand should take care of the other speed by late turn and open up into the stretch just as Knicks Go begins to turn it up a notch.
If Knicks Go gets the proper ride he needs from just off the pace, he might be able to take some starch out of Instagrand in the stretch, and Haikal could rally to complete the exacta with one of those two. Family Biz could also plod into the superfecta as the longest shot on the board if he feels like running. Instagrand is the pick to win, but Knicks Go and Haikal are the likely bets as overlays.
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