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Friday, March 18, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different...

The Grade 3 Gotham will be run at the BIG A at one mile tomorrow. Galloping Grocer (A.P Jet) will look to bounce back from his 4th place finish in the Whirlaway, in which he was challenged on the lead throughout in his first race in 2 1/2 months. He figures to have his work cut out for him here if he wants the lead too, with sprinting speedsters Maddy’s Lion and Distinctive Trick on either side of him. But according to this article on Fox Sports, trainer Dominick Schettino has something completely different in mind.

“We're going to have him rate," he noted. "He gets himself worked up — we had him gelded because he was so high-strung — and we've done a lot of gate work with him because he gets very nervous. As well as trying to relax him, we'd like him to rate because we don't want to be on the lead in the big races. I think he's versatile enough to lay four or five lengths off the pace." [FOX]
If that’s really the case, then it changes the way the race has been generally perceived. The two horses expected to go to the lead have never won beyond 6f; in fact they’ve barely run beyond 6f, and one would expect them to tire and set the race up for..well, maybe Galloping Grocer. He did make his run at Rockport Harbor from just off the pace. Nonetheless, I think there’s too much uncertainly about him here to accept a short price.

Byanosejoe (Cherokee Run) has shown some good late foot at 6f, comes off a lifetime best 92 Beyer, and stayed well in a 2 turn mile race on the inner track; he may really like this 1 turn route.

Naughty New Yorker (Quiet American) has been in training straight through since September, but has continued to improve; in fact he’s downright blossomed with his close seconds in the Count Fleet and Whirlaway Stakes. Was it the inner track, or the fact that trainer Pat Kelly started spacing his races a month apart? The cut back to the one turn mile likely doesn’t help, in fact Kelly said that “he can run all day and I almost consider him a Belmont horse.” [NY Daily News] He did romp at this route in the slop against NY-bred maidens, for whatever that’s worth. Nonetheless, his workouts for this race are pretty awesome, and I get the feeling that he’ll fire again.

Survivalist (Danzig) gets a break from Gulfstream rocks and clay flying in his face and makes his first start at the Big A. He comes off his second in to Sun King in NW1 allowance and shows promise for Shug McGaughey. Horses coming up from Gulfstream generally fare well here this time of year, and this seems to be a good distance for him.

Pavo (Marquetry) is another one who may really like this one turn route. He’s closed very well at 6 furlongs, and also finished second in the Battaglia Memorial at Turfway. But he’s been in training since October, and this is his third race in four weeks, seems a bit much.

I like Naughty New Yorker here despite the shorter distance; he seems to be improving with his one race a month regimen; I think he’ll be a decent price since Galloping Grocer will likely be favored and Survivalist overbet. Galloping Grocer should get enough done to move on to the Wood and I’ll use Byanosejoe on the ticket too.

- Here’s a hunch play for you Monty Python fans. Spamalot, the new Broadway musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail and written by Eric Idle, opened on Broadway this week to great reviews; and tomorrow, at Aqueduct, my friends at Castle Village send out Brave Sir Robin in the 3rd! I presume it will be a real horse running and not jockey Pablo Fragoso running around the track banging rocks to make galloping sounds.