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New York Derby Preps Shift Into Gear With Saturday’s Gotham

 

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Eleven Will Race A Mile In Wood Memorial Prep

By Margaret Ransom

Mischevious Alex. Photo: Lauren King/Coglianese Photo

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Mischevious Alex seven-length Swale Stakes winner was labeled the tepid 3-1 favorite in Saturday’s $300,000 Gotham Stakes (GIII) at Aqueduct. The son of Into Mischief will face a field of ten other sophomores in the one-mile race, which offers valuable Road to the Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis.

Mischevious Alex, who is trained by 2004 Kentucky Derby-winning trainer John Servis, also won the Parx juvenile by open daylight (9 ¾ lengths) two back and carries an overall career line of 6-3-1-1, his only off-the-board performance on the turf in the Laurel Futurity in September. He was also third in the Sapling Stakes at this distance at Monmouth Park last summer, after which the addition of blinkers turned his form around.

“If you look at his Sapling, he looks like a horse that maybe doesn’t want to go that far, but (jockey) Trevor (McCarthy) was adamant after the race that he should have won but the horse got to the front and started waiting on horses and pulled himself up,” Servis said. “I think the blinkers have solved that.

“If he runs good in the Gotham, we’ll have to try him two turns again to see how he handles it. I think the Wood would be the most logical spot, but nothing is etched in stone. We have to get by Saturday first.”

Servis, who trained Smarty Jones to victories in both the 2004 Derby and the Preakness Stakes, also explained that his latest Triple Crown hopeful is really nothing like his most famous trainee aside from two significant details.

“They’re not a lot alike other than neither of them is very big,” Servis said. “Smarty was not a big horse and Alex isn’t a big horse. There’s not a lot of similarities other than both of them being pretty talented.

“(Mischevious Alex is) a good horse and has a great mind on him and will do what you want him to do.”

Mischevious Alex, purchased for $140,000 as an Ocala Breeders’ Sales 2-year-old in training about a year ago and will carry jockey Kendrick Carmouche for the first time.”

Untitled, owned by Gary Barber and Michael Sebastian, broke a string of poor breaks last out, running second in an optional claimer on February 14 at Tampa Bay Downs. Mark Casse took over the training duties after the son of Khozan won his first start in December. After being knocked around out of the gate in the Grade 3 Swale in which he finished fourth, Casse saw a cleaner break last month in Tampa in which he led the five-horse field through the quarter-mile and half-mile marks before running second to Gouverneur Morris.

Making his first start outside of the Sunshine State, Casse said the Florida bred has looked good training at Palm Meadows.

“He’s been training really well,” Casse said. “He’s a beautiful horse. He’s a big, long, good-moving horse. The problem he has sometimes is he breaks a bit slow. After we bought him, we breezed him from the gate trying to get him to be a little quicker right from there. I always wanted to run him long, and I figure the longer I run him, the less important the start is. But he broke pretty good last time.”

Junior Alvarado will be in the saddle and the two will break from post position 10.

Untitled, who was purchased privately by Gary Barber and Michael Sebastian after breaking his maiden by 11 lengths at Gulfstream Park three months ago, makes his return to stakes company after a second-place finish in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance to highly regarded Gouverneur Morris, which followed a fourth in the aforementioned Swale Stakes. The Florida-bred son of Khozan is now trained by Mark Casse and now makes his first start outside of his home state.

“He’s been training really well,” Casse said. “He’s a beautiful horse. He’s a big, long, good-moving horse. The problem he has sometimes is he breaks a bit slow. After we bought him, we breezed him from the gate trying to get him to be a little quicker right from there. I always wanted to run him long, and I figure the longer I run him, the less important the start is. But he broke pretty good last time.”

Junior Alvarado will ride for the first time.

Dale Romans-trained Attachment Rate ships in from Gulfstream Park and local runner War Stopper, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, both face winners for the first time after breaking their maidens last out by open lengths. War Stopper will break from post position three under Jorge Vargas Jr. and Attachment Rate drew post position four and will carry Luis Saez.

Southern Equine Stable’s Sixto makes his second career start after breaking his maiden at six furlongs over the track five weeks ago. He is trained by Eric Guillot, who reports the $250,000 son of Curlin has been training exceptionally well since.

“He’s doing great,” Guillot said. “His last time to the track we just gave him an easy work from the gate. It was a deep track and he finished up strong. Stepping up into the Gotham against better horses, we knew he had to be sharper so we just gave him that reminder to focus on breaking good and it worked out.

“He’s really a push-button horse. He’s a late foal (May 17) and I think once he develops more, he’ll be a nice two-turn horse but for now, the one-turn mile should suit him fine.”

Eric Cancel will be aboard Sixto from post position seven.

Trainer Linda Rice will saddle a pair in Montauk Traffic and First Deputy.

Chris Fountoukis’ Montauk Traffic has won his last two in maiden an stakes company after he dwelt at the start of his first race on December 14 but impressed a lot of people with his strong gallop out. The gray Cross Traffic, who won the seven-furlong Jimmy Winkfield last out, will have Joze Lezcano aboard again.

“We like to think that the added distance will only help him,” Rice said. “I was a little concerned around the turn (of the Jimmy Winkfield). (Lezcano) opted to quit chasing faster fractions and just let the horse settle. Around the turn it looked like he was getting some kickback and trying to work his way through that as well. He made a nice move at the end of it, and we believe that the further the better for him.”

Calumet Farm’s New York-bred First Deputy will make his first stakes appearance in his eighth start following consecutive wins at six furlongs in maiden and allowance company. Jockey Dylan Davis will be aboard from the far outside post.

“It’s a big step up in company,” Rice said, “We’re giving him a shot, he’s training well. “Being an Awesome Again colt, the distance should be within his wheelhouse.”

Two other contenders who already have earned Road to the Derby qualifying are Imperial Racing’s Celtic Striker and Uriah St. Lewis’ Informative, who both have a point to their credit and seek more in the Gotham.

Celtic Striker was fourth in the Jerome on New Year’s Day at Aqueduct for trainer Raymond Handal and is back after a one-mile allowance win at Parx last out a month ago. Romero Maragh will ride.

Informative, who is trained by his owner, earned his point thanks to a fourth-place finish in the Remsen Stakes for juveniles three months ago. The Bodemeister colt finally broke his maiden at this distance over this track last out four weeks ago. John Bisono will have the mount for the seventh straight time aboard Informative, breaking from post 2.

The 68th running of the Gotham will go as the day’s 10th race with a post time of 5:42 p.m. ET. Following is the entire field:

1. Celtic Striker, Rajiv Maragh, 30-1
Congrats—Shylock’s Daughter, by Star Dabbler
2. Informative, John Bisono, 15-1
Bodemeister—Lucky Black, by Hard Spun
3. War Stopper, Jorge Vargas, Jr., 5-1
Declaration of War—Mira Alta, by Curlin
4. Attachment Rate, Luis Saez, 9-2
Hard Spun—Aristra, by Afleet Alex
5. Necker Island, Manuel Franco, 12-1
Hard Spun—Jenny’s Rocket, by Mr. Greeley
6. Mischevious Alex, Kendrick Carmouche, 3-1
Into Mischief—White Pants Night, by Speightstown
7. Sixto, Eric Cancel, 8-1
Curlin—Drift to the Lead, by Yonaguska
8. Montauk Traffic, Jose Lezcano, 6-1
Cross Traffic—Taittinger Rose, by Menifee
9. Flap Jack, Declan Carroll, 30-1
Oxbow—Synkros, by Tapit
10. Untitled, Junior Alvarado, 4-1
Khozan—Cindy Says, by Elusive Quality
11. First Deputy, Dylan Davis, 30-1
Awesome Again—Queen Buxley, by Super Saver

 

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