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Jockey C.C. Lopez celebrataes aboard El Kabeir after the Gotham Stakes
The $400,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) is the first major New York prep for the Triple Crown, and is worth 50 points to the winner in the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. Conditions on Long Island were typical for early March, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 30's. A field of 10 three-year-olds (8 betting interests) contested this 1 1/16 mile inner track feature, with El Kabeir sent off as the 6-5 favorite off his second place finish in the Withers (G3) after winning the Jerome (G3) and the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). In to challenge him included the 3-horse Repole Stable entry of Dontbetwithbruno, Uninfluenced, and Blame Jim, sent off as the 7-2 second choice all of which making their stakes debuts, and 4-1 third choice Classy Class, 3rd in the Withers after finishing fourth in the Remsen (G2).
El Kabeir leads down the stretch.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 El Kabeir Lopez 4.60 3.10 2.50 6 Tiz Shea D Rice 8.00 4.60 3 Classy Class Alvarado. 3.80 Winning Time: 1:45.56 $2 Exacta 4-6 38.20 $2 Trifecta 4-6-3 195.50
Left: El Kabeir in the winner's circle. Winning trainer John Terranova said, "When C.C. and I had talked about it before the race, we said, 'We have a fast horse here, the track is playing quick, let's not get cute. If he breaks clean, go.' We thought we'd be on the lead. When he broke like that I thought, wow, they must be going pretty quick. I saw the half, and I was a little more comfortable, but he was still pretty far back and was taking a lot of mud. And the track had not been playing that way at all today; I had not seen any deep closers do anything. With this level of horses, sometimes you can throw out biases. He overcame a lot today; it was a big jump forward. He got everything thrown at him today and he still managed to overcome it all. It was very impressive."
Right: El Kabeir returns after the race.
Left: El Kabeir heads out for the post parade. Winning jockey C.C. Lopez said, "He broke good, those horses broke better and showed more gas, so then he got quickly shuffled back going into the turn. I just tried not to panic; I was riding the best horse in the race. He was much easier behind horses to throttle the speed back and when I called on him going to the 1/2 mile pole I was able to sneak through on the fence and angle him out going to the 3/8 pole. From there, when he changed leads turning for home, he just exploded. So I'm not worried about the distance any more."
Right: The horses break from the gate for the Gotham.
Left: Second place finisher Tiz Shea D in the paddock. Riley Mott, son of and assistant to trainer Bill Mott said, "We're thrilled. Coming off his first career start, second race and first around two turns against this company, he proved that he belonged and really, really impressed us in the paddock. Co-owner Adam Wachtel added, "It was a courageous ride by a young jockey in Taylor Rice. Based on the colt's performance, supplementing him to the Triple Crown is something we should do. We'll see how he comes out of this, talk to Bill and maybe he'll run in one of the big preps. We'd love to run in the Wood Memorial, it's our home town. He's proven he's the real deal."
Right: Third place finisher Classy Class in the post parade. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "He broke slow, which was unfortunate. Junior [Alvarado] rode him well, saved ground, and he showed he can take mud in his face. He had a bit of traffic but we're happy with his race. We'll look at running him back on April 4, which makes the most sense, either in the Wood Memorial or the Blue Grass."
|The charge down the stretch with Salutos Amigos on the outside|
24-1 Green Gratto dueled for the early lead with Dads Caps through fractions of 23.48 and 46.24 while stalked by Salutos Amigos. Dads Caps gained a short lead into the lane through 5/8 in 57.79 but Salutos Amigos easily passed him and drew off to win by 4 lengths in 1:09.61. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to Green Gratto third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Salutos Amigos Velasquez 3.20 2.10 2.10 3 Dads Caps Ortiz 3.10 2.50 4 Green Gratto Jara 4.70 Winning Time: 1:09.61 $2 Exacta 5-3 7.00 $2 Trifecta 5-3-4 41.00
Left: Salutos Amigos in the winner's circle. Winning co-owner and trainer David Jacobsen said, "This is a special race, with all the training that he missed, and to run the way he did. A spectacular performance; he's just a special horse. We'll see where we go from here. We were really concentrating on this race, and now that we have this one behind us now I will take Dubai a lot more serious. After today, he proved that he is a special horse. He's been running all year, and he's been so strong and good. He's had the foundation, so the training he missed was like a mini-vacation, but it didn't affect him at all."
Right: Salutos Amigos returns after the race.
Left: Salutos Amigos in the paddock. Winning jockey Cornelio Velasquez said, "My horse broke on top, and if I let him go he could have gone wire to wire. But I wanted to cover him up behind horses because he is more relaxed. At the top of the stretch, when I put him in the clear, I had a lot of horse. He won easy today. It was an easy race for him."
Right: Salutos Amigos in the post parade.
Left: Second place finisher Dads Caps returns after the race. The 3-1 second choice contested the pace under Jose Ortiz but could not hold off the winner. The Gustavo Rodriguez trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 7 seconds, and 2 thirds, earning $738,650 for owner-breeder Vincent Scuderi.
Right: Third place finisher Green Gratto in the post parade. The 24-1 shot battled for the lead under Fernando Jara but tired late to finish 3rd beaten 6 3/4 lengths. The David Smith trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 3 seconds, and 4 thirds in 24 starts, earning $195,664 for owners Gaston and Anthony Grant and Basil Greene.
Shayjolie winning the Cat Cay Stakes
Left: Shayjolie in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Gary Contessa said, "Honestly, I was not going to run her this month. But just like in any sport, you can call an audible at any time. I saw how this race was shaping up, and I thought, 'I need to be in it. She needs to be a stakes winner.' She's got a great pedigree, she's by Indian Charlie, and she wants to be a good horse. That could very well happen. She's knocked at the door in some very big races. Maybe this could be her year."
Right: Shayjolie returns after the race. Winning jockey Sheldon Russell, celebrating his 1000th career win, said, "I got a really great trip. She has very good speed out of the gate, so I was able to get good position. She was smooth the whole way around; I had to move a little bit early when Storied Lady came to me on my outside, but she was always traveling well. Obviously, she likes this track a lot. It was a great trip, and a nice horse to get my 1000th win on." Contessa added, "I said to Sheldon,'You'll never forget who I am. Long after I'm retired, you'll remember Gary Contessa put you up on your 1000th winner.'"
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