Favorite could be in favorable spot
By J.J. Hysell
Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes took an interesting turn when Overanalyze drew the far outside post in a 12-horse field.
It’s not as bad as it sounds, however, for Repole Stables and Todd Pletcher’s son of Dixie Union, who is 5-2 on the morning line.
Last year’s Gotham winner Hansen broke from post 12. He was hustled into a stalking position by Ramon Dominguez and took the lead in the stretch en route to a three-length win.
From his spot on the outside, jockey John Velazquez can see how the pace is developing and adjust appropriately. In addition, Overanalyze has proven he can respond to adversity. He was bumped hard and left last at the start of the six-furlong futurity stakes at Belmont and still rallied to win.
Overanalyze also showed grit when he battled a late-charging Normandy Invasion in the Remsen and emerged victorious.
“I think he had an incredible 2-year-old campaign,” said owner Mike Repole, whose Stay Thirsty won the 2011 Gotham. “Overanalyze’s two graded stakes wins were very, very impressive. He showed courage and a big heart in coming back to win the Remsen, and those are things you can’t measure.
“He’s training really good. Todd told me he’s ready. He’s definitely moved up from two to three, and we’ll find out Saturday where he is. It’s been four months and we’re excited about getting him here.”
One of the top challengers should be Vyjack, a son of Into Mischief who is undefeated in three starts. Vyjack, trained by Rudy Rodriguez with new jockey Joel Rosario, drew post 8 and shares the high weight of 123 with Overanalyze.
“He’s got a lot of talent,” Rodriguez said. “But the competition is going to get tougher, and he’s going to have to keep stepping up.”
Sky Captain (8-1), who scratched from the Fountain of Youth because of an outside post, drew post 10 for the Gotham. The Mark Casse trainee was second to Cerro in an allowance race at 1 1/8-miles at Gulfstream Park in his last start.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin entered three in the 1 1/16-mile race, but said one could run in an allowance on Sunday: Elnaawi (8-1) is a half-brother of To Honor and Serve who will run on Lasix for the first time, Transparent (8-1) and Now and Then (8-1).
“What we were thinking about is they all have talent,” said McLaughlin. “They’re all colts who we think can be graded stakes winners. Elnaawi won easily last time out. It’s a big step up, but we think he’s a nice horse. It would be nice to get points and have a chance to run in the Derby. With the other two, we’re not sure what we’re going to do, but, bottom line, they’re all talented colts with a future.”
Escapefromreality (6-1) was second to Revolutionary in the Withers.
“I definitely think he’s going to improve,” said owner Anthony J. Bonomo, who campaigns Escapefromreality with his wife, Mary Ellen, under the MeB Racing Stables banner. “That was his first time going two turns. It was a shame he got caught at the wire, but since that race he’s just been getting better and better, training-wise.”
Completing the field are: Champion Boy (30-1), Ore Pass (12-1), Amerigo Vespucci (20-1), Siete de Oros (15-1), West Hills Giant (20-1).