Kentucky Derby Trail: Gotham Stakes Preview

The 2021 Gotham Stakes will be Race 9 on March 5th at Aqueduct. Post time is set for 4:07 PM CT. This Grade III Race is one mile and has a purse of $300,000. The race is for three-years old horses and will give us an early look at some 2021 Kentucky Derby contenders. There are eight horses in the field this year. Last year’s winner was Mischevious Alex. Let’s take a look at the rankings for everyone in this year’s field.

Highly Motivated is my favorite to win this race, but he’ll have to rally from his stalking position to do so. He’s won two in a row, including the Nyquist Stakes in his last. Trained by Chad Brown and a likely derby contender, Highly Motivated is the likely favorite here.

Freedom Fighter has only raced twice so far, but his 105 speed figure in his last was the fastest of anyone in this field (Highly Motivated ran 104). He lost that race by a nose to Concert Tour in the Grade II San Vincente Stakes. A Bob Baffert trained horse, and sent here likely because he wants to push the pace and may like the one-turn nature of this race,

Crowded Trade is sort of an X-Factor here. He’s only had one race so far, but that race was a win with an impressive speed figure of 94. He’s stepping up significantly in class here, but will get some speed set-up from Freedom Fighter and Capo Kane to come closing late.

Capo Kane is another speed horse to rival Freedom Fighter in this one. He ran 1 1/8 in the Withers Stakes in his last and seemed to run out of gas down the stretch as he finished 3rd. He cuts back to a mile here, which seems to fit him better. He will challenge Freedom Fighter for the lead.

There’s a significant drop off in the field after Capo Kane. I wouldn’t put much faith in using any of them. Although they are all still young, they’d have to show something much better than they have thus far and against stiffer competition.

Below we take a look at each horses last three speed figures.

I’ve run the Gotham Stakes 1,000 times in simulations. Below are the results of those races.

Quick Wrap Up and Betting Strategies

Most Likely to Win: 3 Highly Motivated

My Bet: 3 to Win, 3-7 Exacta

Superfecta: 3-7-6/5-6/5

The pace set up will be interesting here. Freedom Fighter and Capo Kane both want to press and they’ll battle a few of the long shots in Wipe the Slate, Atlantic Road and Weyburn for the lead. All that paced could set the table perfectly for Highly Motivated. There’s also the X-Factor in lightly-raced Crowded Trade, but my pick is Highly Motivated.

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