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2021 Gotham Stakes day at Aqueduct

horse racing
Trevor McCarthy celebrates aboard Weyburn after the Gotham Stakes
Date: 03/06/2021

The $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) is the first major New York prep for the Kentucky Derby, and is worth 50 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. Conditions on Long Island were typical for early March, with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 30's, and the main track rated fast. A field of 8 three-year-olds contested this 1 mile trip around one turn of the main track, with Highly Motivated sent off as the 9-10 favorite off his win in the Nyquist Stakes at Keeneland in November. In to challenge him included 2-1 second choice Freedom Fighter, 2nd in the San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita, and 11-2 third choice Crowded Trade fresh off his debut win at Aqueduct.

Jockey Manny Franco sent Freedom Fighter to the lead out of the chute and he set fractions of 23.29, 48.03, and 1:12.85 while pressed by 46-1 Weyburn and stalked by Crowded Trade. Turning for home, Freedom Fighter tired as Crowded Trade gained the lead but Weyburn, 2 wide under Trevor McCarthy, came through on the inside to win by a nose in 1:38.70. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to late-running favorite Highly Motivated third.

horse racing
Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 8   Weyburn            McCarthy     95.50   26.80  8.70
 5   Crowded Trade      Cancel                7.00  3.70
 3   Highly Motivated   Castellano                  2.50

Winning Time:  1:38.70

$1 Exacta 8-5               277.50
$0.50 Trifecta 8-5-3        336.50
$0.10 Superfecta 8-5-3-7     199.40
Results Chart
Previous winners

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Weyburn in the winner's circle. Robert Landry, general manager of winning owner-breeder Chiefswood Stables said, "We'll talk to Jimmy and see how the horse comes back. We're definitely not going to rule it out, but we want to do what's right by the horse. We'll let the horse tell us that with how he comes out of the race and how he's training. Jimmy knows his horses and we're going to count on him."

Right: Trophy presentation for the Gotham. Landry added, "We don't want to get too excited. We haven't nominated him to the Triple Crown because we were a little bit behind, but that doesn't stop us from supplementing him. If he earns his way there, he'll get to run there. There's still a long way to go."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Weyburn walks over before the race. Winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens said, "I don't know. We'll just take this all in. Of course (the Wood Memorial) is a logical spot. It's right here. He's kind of a quirky horse. The pony man takes him every morning because he's tough and wants to wheel. He's still a little kid. He doesn't trust everybody. This is just really satisfying because it's been a tough winter and we loved him from day one. He didn't run first out and we didn't know what to think. Thank God we stuck to our guns. I think he'll end up being a decent colt."

Right: Weyburn returns after the race. Winning jockey Trevor McCarthy said, "He got into a really good groove down the backside and the pace wasn't too hot. He's a big, solid horse and I just wanted to get him rolling early. I did like Bob (Baffert)'s horse [Freedom Fighter] today, so I wanted to put pressure on him, too. He switched leads in that last eighth and that made him resurge. He was really aggressive and he had a lot of fight in him. I think the longer the better. He galloped out really good today. He's a big horse and he's going to love going further. I look forward to riding him two turns."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Crowded Trade returns after the race. Jockey Eric Cancel said, "I thought I had it for a second and then I looked over at Trevor and I saw he had a nose in front. The horse ran great. Stretching out, I think the last sixteenth got to him a little bit, but other than that, he ran awesome."

Right: Third place finisher Highly Motivated walks over before the race. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "You have to use him a little bit to put him in position, but I don't have any complaints today. I'm satisfied with how he ran. Most of the horses today that won have been close to the pace. He hasn't run since four months ago and I didn't want to squeeze him out of the gate and put him too close to the pace. He finished really well today. Unfortunately, the other horses got the jump and the track is playing to speed a little bit. I like the way he finished coming from behind. He had a lot of dirt in the face and it was a good education for the horse to move forward in the future."

horse racing
Chateau wins the Tom Fool Handicap

A field of 6 older horses contested the $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap (G3) over 6 furlongs on the main track. Toboggan Stakes (G3) winner Pete's Play Call was the 5-2 favorite over 3-1 Wendell Fong, winner of the Fire Plug at Laurel, and 7-2 Chateau off an allowance win.

Jockey kendrick Carmouche sent Chateau to the lead through fractions of 22.81 and 46.18 while pressed by 4-1 fourth choice Speed Pass and stalked by Wendell Fong. Turning for home, Chateau left the field behind, opening up a 6 1/2 length advantage through 5f in 58.20. Kept to task by Carmouche, Chateau cruised the rest of the way to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Wendell Fong in 1:12.10. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Speed Pass third.

Results Chart
Previous winners

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Chateau in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Rob Atras said, "That was emotional. He came running out of the gate and put away the other speed horse [No. 4, Happy Farm], who is no slouch. Kendrick broke him so sharp. We had a plan; obviously it was no secret. He put away that horse and was controlling the race and got a little separation. When they turned for home, it didn't look like anyone was coming and Kendrick still had some horse. It was an amazing performance.

Right: The trophy presentation for the Tom Fool Handicap. Winning jockey Kendrick Carmouche said, "When you read into it and there's a lot of speed, nine times out of ten, it doesn't happen that way. I knew my horse had to be forwardly placed. I figured him out last time. This time I knew Rob had given him enough time in between races where he could carry his speed a little longer. Eric [Cancel aboard Happy Farm] wanted to push me a little bit in the first sixteenth, but once my horse really got a hold of the track and I reached and grabbed him he took me there and I just let him roll"

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Wendell Fong returns after the race. Jockey Trevor McCarthy said, "He got a good break. [Speed Pass] broke bad and then rushed up to get position and I thought that was the horse that would take me there and be a good horse to follow. When I tipped out, he finished up strong. He just couldn't catch the speed horses. They were going at a pretty decent fraction and speed is pretty good here at Aqueduct."

Right: Third place finisher Speed Pass walks over before the race. The Bob Baffert trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 0 seconds, and 3 thirds in 6 starts, earning $110,340 for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman.

horse racing
Search Results wins the Busher Stakes

The distaff counterpart to the Gotham is the $250,000 Busher Invitational Stakes featuring a field of 6 three-year-old fillies also going 1 mile on the main track, worth 50 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series. Ruthless Stakes winner Miss Brazil was sent off as the 9-5 favorite over 2-1 Search Results, a debut winner at Gulfstream, and 5-1 Mo Desserts, a maiden winner at second asking last out.

Jockey Eric Cancel sent Miss Brazil to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 23.53, 49.64, and 1:15.14 while pressed by Search Results and stalked by Mo Desserts. Entering the stretch, Miss Brazil continued to lead through 7f in 1:27.26 but Search Results under jockey Javier Castellano collared her at the 1/16 pole, the pair brushing before Search Results pulled ahead to win by 1/2 a length in 1:39.75. It was a long 5 3/4 lengths back to 6-1 The Grass is Blue third.

Results Chart
Previous winners

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Search Results in the winner's circle. Dan Stupp, assistant to winning trainer Chad Brown said, "She came up here in great shape The team at Payson [Park, training center] did a great job with her. She's a very classy filly and stepped forward to validate that. We'll see how see comes out of it first and foremost, but we'll talk it over with Chad (about the Gazelle Stakes) and see what he thinks is best."

Right: Search Results heads out to the track before the race. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "She broke so well out of the gate. She put me in a good position to rate and I didn't want to take that away from her and take her back. I just let her do what she wanted to do. She was happy and she settled fine. They were just galloping along in the lead with the one horse [Miss Brazil], who was my target on paper. When I asked her, she didn't switch leads, but everything I asked for, she gave it to me. She responded. I like the way she galloped out and I think she's going to be a good filly in the future. Two turns will be even better."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Miss Brazil heads out to the track before the race. Jockey Eric Cancel said, "The plan going into this race was to go to the lead and make her comfortable ,and I followed through with it. I just got caught the last sixteenth. The [final furlong] made a little bit of a difference with it being her first time going a mile. She fought hard almost to the wire. The last sixteenth she struggled just a bit, but they ran hard. I can't take anything away from her. She's a really decent filly."

Right: Third place finisher The Grass Is Blue returns after the race. Dan Stupp, assistant to trainer Chad Brown said, "She tried really hard and I'm proud of her. There was not a lot of pace for her to run at. She always tries for us."

horse racing
Lake Avenue wins the Heavenly Prize Invitational

The $125,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational featured a field of 8 older fillies and mares going 1 mile on the main track. 2019 Demoiselle (G2) winner Lake Avenue was sent off as the 9-10 favorite over 2-1 Thankful, winner of the Ladies Handicap, and 13-2 Gone Glimmering off an allowance win.

Jockey Jorge Vargas sent 8-1 Portal Creek to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 23.77, 48.02, and 1:13.82 while pressed by 47-1 Flashndynamite and stalked by Gone Glimmering and Lake Avenue. Turning for home jockey Manny Franco sent Lake Avenue 3 wide for room and she swept to the front. Kept to task by Franco, Lake Avenue powered away to win by 6 3/4 lengths over Portal Creek in 1:39.25. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to Flashndynamite third.

Results Chart
Previous winners

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Lake Avenue heads to the winner's circle. Leanna Willaford, assistant to winning trainer Bill Mott said, "She came in looking good and ran to that. She rated nicely and ran very well. It was good to see."

Right: Manuel Franco celebrates aboard Lake Avenue after winning the Heavenly Prize Stakes. Franco said, "They just left it up to me and I think she's a different filly right now. She grew up and Mott is doing a great job with his horses. She is just very kind right now. I put her wherever she wants. I broke well and was able to rate her a little bit because I knew the pace was quick in front of me. I didn't want to be too far back. I wanted to be third or fourth and see what [Thankful] had. [At the far turn] I knew I had a lot of horse, so I didn't want to move too soon. The one horse who could have beat me was behind me, so I took a peek back to see what she had. When the moment came, I asked her and she just took off."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Portal Creek walks over before the race. Jockey Jorge Vargas Jr. said, "They wanted me to be on the front no matter what. She ran a big race. She tried to stay on with the winner as long as she could, but that one is a very nice filly. She was just second-best today."

Right: Third place finisher Flashndynamite returns after the race. The Michael Moore trainee improved her record to 12 wins, 3 seconds, and 6 thirds in 30 starts, earning $300,240 for owners Kasey K Racing Stable and Michael Day.

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