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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

The Gotham Stakes Battle


Samraat - 2014 Gotham Stakes

The Gotham Stakes will be held at Aqueduct on March 6th. This Prep offers 50 points to the winner as part of the Champion Prep Series leading up to the 10f Kentucky Derby.


These 50 points could just as easily be thrown directly into the trash as far as the Kentucky Derby is concerned. The 8 furlongs of this prep as it relates to the first Saturday in May is a dubious endeavor to say the least. The victor of this particular race is molded in a completely opposite direction of what thrives in the Derby and those 2 extra furlongs do not relate in the slightest between the Aqueduct race and the Churchill race.


Just like the Holy Bull Stakes, the entrants of this race are advantaged because of their mile speed and they are generally here because they exhibited that speed going even shorter than that mile in their previous races. Out of the possible entries for this upcoming race, only one colt has the breeding to find favor in the Kentucky Derby, but because of that, he has close to zero advantage in this prep. It is a Catch 22. He needs the points to secure his gate but he will find no mercy in the Gotham as he competes against a very fortunate field.


It has been 32 years since any horse who won the Gotham made substantial noise in the Derby. In 1989, Easy Goer won the Gotham and came in second in the Derby. Over the last 10+ years, only one colt who won this speedy prep managed to at least hear his name called in the Super High Five in the Derby. In 2014, the winner of the Gotham Stakes, Samraat, hit 5th on the board at Churchill Downs. It was the best performance by the last 10 winners. Fifth. That's it. All others failed horribly. Just like the Holy Bull, run 1/16th of a mile further, victors who have the upper hand to take down these races will find that it would never correlate in the Derby. Those who struggle here will find much greater success in Kentucky, if they could only pull it off. This year, there is only one who has what it takes to potentially make some noise in the Derby but he will be completely up against it in the Gotham Stakes. If he can pull it off up against a gate filled with severe advantage, his outlook for the Derby would sky rocket. Even if he found himself taking just a small piece of the trifecta, he would still carry a spotlight off of this race. He will have his work cut out for him here.


Milers win this race, that is just common sense. As the last 10+ editions of this race shows, the gate will be filled with quick speed demons who capitalized off of their maiden and shorter previous races and they are usually built perfectly for the 8f distance. As much as the Gotham Stakes is a highly anticipated spectacle year after year, it holds almost no bearing for the Kentucky Derby. The winner will be severely hyped and is all but guaranteed a Derby gate, but most likely will become an afterthought in the days leading up to the first Saturday in May or he will fail miserably.


Solomini

Unfortunately, the single entry who has a shot in Kentucky is being read completely wrong when it comes to his breeding. It reminds me very much of an unsung horse from the past named Solomini.


SOLOMINI

DP = 6-5-11-0-0 (22) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.77

Mare Profile = 4-6-2-6-11 Speed = 10 Stamina = 17

Index = 0.53 Triads = 12-14-19


When these types of colts show promise early on going shorter and then they happen to slightly regress in a race due to either weather conditions or having just a plain bad day, they are taken off of their more advantaged course. In Solomini's case, the horse had mare stamina to potentially light up the tote board in the Belmont Stakes if he was entered, but because of a poor showing in some preps and in the Kentucky Derby itself, Solomini was cast as distanced challenged and then continually placed in the most disadvantaged races for him. He never stood a chance moving forward, being entered into races that he was simply not built for. Many times, a horse who loses steam running short is not giving in because he is distance challenged, he is giving in because he is holding much more (mare) stamina and does not want to challenge speedsters going too short. When pressed to that extreme, he will give in, but he would never concede if left to run the way he was built, at an even slow pace early on with a strong ability to reserve late speed running passed the 9f mark. Solomini was all stamina with that 3.00 index and he never had the opportunity to reveal it. He struggled against the advantaged going short, he failed on a 10f sloppy track, and then he was subjected to races way under his optimum. These types ultimately find themselves ending up in allowance races still against their true distance capability and up against colts that they could never beat going that short. Being set on that course knocked this guy's confidence to the curb in each subsequent race that he was entered.


With Solomini, he would have been primed to show off in the Derby, however, the sloppy track was against his breeding again and that set in motion more conflicting ideas about his raw distance capability. In a nutshell, Solomini's true stamina breeding was his downfall but it was more the downfall of his connections. Incorrect placement up against fields with severe advantages over him was just a set up for failure.


Now enter Capo Kane. He appears to be sitting in the same boat. Showing extreme talent in his ability to come in second in his first Maiden attempt at 7f and winning his second maiden at a one mile 70 yards, both on the slick track at Parx. To say that this horse was at a disadvantage in both of those races is an understatement. He competed, against his breeding, and displayed serious potential as the distances progressed. Next entered into the Jerome Stakes, again with a major disadvantage for the 8f, he demolished that field. That points to a major standout with his type of breeding and those three tests showed substantial hidden talent just waiting to be unleashed as the distances aligned closer to his pedigree.


Next race he competed in saw him still entering the gate at a sever disadvantage again, traveling 1-1/8th in the Withers Stakes. With 3 successful performances under his belt up against fields that were highly advantaged over him, one should not expect any colt to consistently conquer those odds below his optimum. No fault in trying because basically these are the only distances offered to young three year olds who are positioned on the road to the Derby. They have no choice in that regard, but they have a choice in expectations in the outcome with a horse bred like Capo Kane running against speedy advantaged competitors at 9f.


Unfortunately, Capo was only able to sustain on the lead to mid-stretch where he was overtaken by Risk Taking and Overtook. Risk Taking being extremely advantaged at the 9f distance and Overtook being a potential monster moving forward towards the Derby. Capo Kane hitting 3rd in this race does not mean he is distance challenged, it means that he was not built for that 9f race up against Risk Taking and he certainly locked horns against a potential beast in Overtook. Coming in third at 9f does not mean that Capo Kane is distanced challenged but unfortunately for him, he will be cutting back in distance in the Gotham which is even a worse spot than the Withers was.


For colts built like Capo Kane, who showed extreme talent early on in their ability to outwit the speedsters going short, their mid-path towards the Derby is a succession of highly disadvantaged races which sometimes culminates in the destruction of a potential superstar due to incorrect future placement based off of those losses and can easily result in a real Derby contender being admonished to Allowance races before his retirement.


In this year's Gotham Stakes, the only entry (so far) who has any potential to endure the 10f of the Kentucky Derby is Capo Kane. He will enter that gate with the worst advantage on the field due to his mare's stamina inheritance. If Capo Kane gets anywhere near that trifecta, he would being showing standout qualities, however, it is surely going to give the wrong signals yet again. He has ZERO advantage in the Gotham because of his inherited stamina. The other contenders have all of the potential in the world to win the Gotham, but they have ZERO shot in the Derby.


The Gotham Stakes produces winners who are adept in the 8.5 to 9f range and they never ever do well in the Derby. As much as this race is anticipated year after year, it does not produce Kentucky Derby Material. If Capo Kane manages to win this race, or even hit that board for that matter, he is the only one that would have any shot in Kentucky. Being in that position puts him at an even greater disadvantage for the prep at this distance.

The last 10 years of winners in the Gotham Stakes, with their configurations and advantages in this 8f prep and their ultimate demise in the Derby is because they thrive at 8f. Samraat had the backing of at least a fistful of chef stamina with his 1.22 chef index to make his way into a 5th place in the Derby however, the mares gave him his advantage in the 8f Gotham prep and steered him far from the wire in the Derby, just as it had done for the other winners during their editions as well.


Only Haikal, who won the 2019 Gotham Stakes showed promise for the 10f Derby but he did not enter a gate that year. Haikal was the only exception as far as stamina inheritance for the Gotham and there is always usually one. That year, the lead speed, Mind Control, decided to run a 22.36 opening quarter which basically handed the win over to the stamina guy. Had Haikal been a Derby contender in 2019, his stamina would have defeated him on the sloppy track anyway, so it didn't matter either way.


The Past 10 Years of the Gotham:


2020 - Michevious Alex Chef Index: 3.00 Derby: Did not run.

2019 - Haikal Chef Index: 3.00 Derby: Did not run.

2018 - Enticed Chef Index: 3.00 Derby: 14th place.

2017 - J Boys Echo Chef Index: 4.09 Derby: 15th place.

2016 - Shagaf Chef Index: 5.40 Derby: Did Not Finish.

2015 - El Kabeir Chef Index: 5.86 Derby: Did not run.

2014 - Samraat Chef Index: 1.22 Derby: 5th place.

2013 - Vyjack Chef Index: 1.80 Derby: 18th place.

2012 - Hansen Chef Index: 3.33 Derby: 9th place.

2011 - Stay Thirsty Chef Index: 2.25 Derby: 12th place.


As you can see, the Gotham Stakes does not produce Derby material because the configurations that win this race find no success traveling 10f. If you look down that list, only two colts had a "stamina category" chef index, Samraat and Vyjack and only one had a mid-range index, Stay Thirsty. In both Samraat and Vyjack's case, both were given stamina from their chefs, both in the 8.7f to 9.4f range. Neither received any stamina assistance from their mares to compete at 10f.


2014 Samraat: Mare Profile = 11-4-8-5-4 Speed = 15 Stamina = 9 Index = 1.62 Triads = 23-17-17

2013 Vyjack: Mare Profile = 6-10-4-7-7 Speed = 16 Stamina = 14 Index = 1.04 Triads = 20-21-18

Both had beautiful packed triads, however, their point spread from their mares balance stole whatever stamina they may have gained from those chefs and kept them under the 10f distance. Negative balance does not work for 10f and keeps that optimum at the 9f and below spot. Vyjack had a double whammy on his Derby dreams, in that it poured buckets that day, knocking him out even before the bell rang. These configurations balance themselves out for a talented horse on par with the advantaged distance for the Gotham but that same advantage crushes them for the Derby.


2011 Stay Thirsty: Mare Profile = 3-8-2-5-8 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.70 Triads = 13-15-15

Again, the ultimate tell-tale sign of a half-descent horse beating speed at 8f but with absolutely no chance of hitting a superfecta spot in the 10f Derby with these numbers. A 2.25 index horse can find success at 8f (when they are entered) and when the mare contribution does not water down that speed. This type finds zero opportunity to make noise in the Derby based on his 2.25 index coupled with those triads. A 2 point spread in this case is wildly insufficient.


All of the other speed guys above who won the Gotham were either lopsided to speed in their mare balance or had subpar mare triads to compete. Shagaf was blessed with a nice amount of mare stamina but it was not enough to counter his 5.40 index. Most every winner in the Gotham had a mare balance that tilted to speed, and a negative point spread leaning to stamina. This is why they won the Gotham prep in the first place.


The Potential 2021 Gotham Field:


DRAIN THE CLOCK Chef Index = 4.00 Mares: Speed = 14 Stamina = 13 Triads = 16-17-15 Index: 1.15

SUPER STRONG Chef Index = 3.36 Mares: Speed = 12 Stamina = 13 Triads = 17-13-18 Index: 1.00

FREEDOM FIGHTER Chef Index = 3.29 Mares: Speed = 15 Stamina = 11 Triads = 18-10-14 Index: 1.32

NICKY THE VEST Chef Index = 3.00 Mares: Speed = 13 Stamina = 12 Triads = 17-17-16 Index: 1.37

HELIUM Chef Index = 3.00 Mares: Speed = 15 Stamina = 17 Triads = 18-16-20 Index: .97

HIGHLY MOTIVATED Chef Index = 1.67 Mares: Speed = 10 Stamina = 10 Triads = 19-24-19 Index: .95

CAPO KANE Chef Index = 1.57 Mares: Speed = 12 Stamina = 17 Triads = 15-23-20 Index: .91


As you can see, Capo Kane is the only horse entered into the Gotham Stakes touting a substantial amount of inherited mare stamina. Simply graze down the mares speed/stamina balance numbers and Capo's stands out like a sore thumb. In conjunction with his chefs stamina index of 1.57, Capo Kane is sitting in the worst spot and is at the most disadvantaged for this short 8f race. With the exception of Highly Motivated (which we will get to) the 5 other entries are all built very nicely for this 8f race. All have the advantage of subpar mare stamina that would deteriorate their endurance and not one of them has superior Derby numbers. Also, mare indexes above .90 are also speedier indexes with their 3.00+ chef speedy indexes. Their set-ups are all screaming speed which thrives at 8f. This is the distance they want. This is closer to their optimums. With Capo Kane, his .91 mare index BALANCES him, with the others it swings it further to the speed side when combined with their chefs which is perfectly built for the race at hand.


Highly Motivated is also not as disadvantaged for this race even though he is sporting a 1.67 index. His mare stamina number (10) is even with the mare speed number (also 10) which means there is no additional stamina over and above the speed he was presented with from his reines. His triads are nice for the Derby, but the speed/stamina balance kills it for the Derby.


The only horse in this field that has any shot at the Kentucky Derby is Capo Kane. (Helium has a very slight shot) Unfortunately, he has ZERO advantage in this race up against the other numbers on this field. Six out of seven colts have the speed to compete in this race which means it is a fools bet to even consider gambling on it. Only three observations need to be made from this race going forward and they all have to do with Capo Kane.


One, should he win or even hit the board against this field at this distance, he would be keeping on that path as being a complete standout for the Derby. If he does manage anything resulting anywhere between a half decent to a spectacular performance here, he must remain a plausible contender for the Derby.


Two, should he fail, even miserably fail in this race, it would not be due to any challenge as far as distance capability or lack of speed, it would be due to the horse not being built in the slightest for this particular race. He needs more track, not less.


Third, if Capo Kane captures nothing from this effort, it would not be due to lack of talent or lack of distance capability - it would be due to incorrect placement set up against way too many 8f advantaged colts. It would be yet another "Solomini" travesty if this horse ends up in Allowance races after having the confidence knocked out him while never having the shot to run with ease at his own optimum. I hope that this guy can manage some sort of success here so that he can move forward and hopefully, his Derby day won't be rained upon like Solomini's was either. (Helium has half descent numbers for the Derby, but they are board hit numbers and not winning numbers, which also means, realistically, he may have a disadvantage here as well.) Any other colt other than Capo Kane (and maybe Helium) winning this prep will never see the finish line in the Kentucky Derby, no matter how hyped he will be after this race.


This includes Baffert's Freedom Fighter. This horse has the highest amount of inbred speed on the Gotham field, which means he has the greatest advantage here at the 8f distance which is very close to his optimum. He has the #1 advantage on this field. But that horse will need those Salon Pas patches and a bale of Jimson Weed to compete at 10f and I truly hope they have those test kits ready on Derby Day.

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