Friday, March 02, 2012

The Grade 3 $400,000 Gotham Stakes

Hansen, the 2011 Champion Two-Year-Old and winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, stumbled in his 2012 debut in the slop at Gulfstream Park. Actually, that is both literal and figurative. He stumbled at the start of the Grade 3 Holy Bull and was never able to get the lead, eventually running 2nd behind Algorithms. As a result, Algorithms was thrust right into the middle of the Kentucky Derby picture. Unfortunately, Algorithms is now off the Derby Trail after suffering an injury prior to the Fountain Of Youth. So, now the only blot on Hansen's record is no longer a threat. Is there another blot to come? Here is the analysis:

Clearly, #12 Hansen is going to be a prohibitive favorite in the Gotham on Saturday. Trainer Michael Maker is taking off the blinkers for the first time in five starts and Ramon Dominguez, fresh off being named the George Woolf Award winner, is aboard again. Dominguez was up for Hansen's moment of glory in the Juvenile. The lingering question about the Gotham is who can go with Hansen and make him work for the lead, especially considering he drew so far outside? One thought might be #9 King And Crusader, who has been on or right near the lead in the last three starts, all of them wins (although he was DQ'd from purse money in one of them). He posted a strong bullet workout on February 26 over the inner track at Aqueduct, five furlongs in 1:01 1/5. #1 My Adonis and #4 Pretension also might be forwardly-placed, based on their past performances. If there is a pace battle, who might come from just off the pace and who will be coming from the clouds? I think that #2 Stealcase, #5 Maan, #8 Raconteur and #13 Tiger Walk will be sitting closer to the pace than the deep closers and as far as those deep closers, they appear to be #3 Finnegans Wake, #6 Dan And Sheila, #7 Suns Out Guns Out, and #11 Done Talking. Are any of these good enough to run down the champion in here? Since I am not exactly thrilled with the price Hansen will be in the Gotham, I think you have to try and beat him with a decent-enough price and in this case, that is just what I will try to do.

THE PICK: #8-Raconteur (15-1)

Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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