Back in New Jersey after a fun weekend down at Gulfstream. Let’s review two interesting Derby prep races from over the weekend, the Gotham at Aqueduct in this post and the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream in our next post.
The two races were similar in one key aspect – both had very fast paces that fell apart.
Let’s take a look, starting with the Gotham, won by J Boys Echo for trainer Dale Romans.
Fractions – 23.58, 47.70, 1:13.59, 1:46.34 (8.5 furlongs)
Winning Beyer – 102
Winning Margin – 3.5 lengths
Pace & Flow – The pace of this race was definitely fast. There was one other 8.5 furlong race on the card, a stakes race for fillies & mares in which Isabelle ran 1:46.04 but only 49.04 to the half and 1:14.12 to the six furlong mark in going wire to wire. El Areeb, the 2-5 favorite, went to the front but was pushed along by True Timber and Cloud Computing with J Boys Echo letting the pace develop in front of him. He looked like a winner basically for the last 3/8ths of a mile.
On The Winner – J Boys Echo (6-1) had a great trip, sitting back off the fast pace, angling out around the far turn, and he ran on to win easily. He did earn a very good Beyer Speed Figure of 102, which is the strongest so far this year (tied with One Liner’s 102 from the Southwest).
On one hand, J Boys Echo will probably never get a better trip for the rest of his career. On the other hand, he wouldn’t be the first Dale Romans horse to improve with racing. Plus, as we noted in the preview post, he’s had some tough trips before. Ultimately, we’re fans, but he’s got some more work to do considering his great trip and the somewhat suspect field that he defeated in this race.
On The Runner-Up – It’s hard not to be impressed with Cloud Computing, who went off at 7-1, higher than we expected. His debut race just three weeks before was very good, when he missed the break and was very green. Then in this race, he was close to the very fast pace, and held in there pretty well, big positives considering how inexperienced he was (and Chad Brown’s horses typically don’t come back on just 21 days rest). Derby horse? Probably not – remember it would be just his fourth start. But a horse that will be heard from for awhile? It certainly looks that way. We are big fans of Cloud Computing.
On The Others – Let’s take these in finish order.
El Areeb was the big favorite (2-5) and got caught in a fast pace in this race, dropping back and finishing a well-beaten third. The nagging feeling is that he wasn’t going to get better as the distances got longer, but the pace did him no favors here. He’s a big longshot as far as the Derby goes, but should be a factor in the 3 year old one-turn races. El Areeb reportedly might get another shot in a Derby prep if he comes out of this race well.
Action Everyday was well back early off the fast pace, and did lose some ground, but his mild run didn’t threaten an exacta finish and he was beaten 12.5 lengths.
True Timber was pushing the pace of El Areeb early on and faded, though he was only beaten 1.25 lengths by El Areeb, which doesn’t speak all that well of El Areeb’s performance.
So Conflated came east for Doug O’Neill and did no running at all despite the fast pace in front of him. He was 8-1 in the wagering and a disappointment. Maybe he is a sprinter (his two strong dirt races were sprints), but something might have gone wrong. Hopefully he is ok, as his first two races were good races against good fields.
Gaetano was 90-1 and was not a factor.
What’s Next (New York) – The Wood Memorial is April 8th on the main track at Aqueduct (this was run on the inner-track) going 9 furlongs. It’s likely though that J Boys Echo heads to Lexington for the Blue Grass. El Areeb and/or Cloud Computing could theoretically come back here and trainers from all over will be looking for the easiest spots for their horses. With both Classic Empire and McCraken possible for the Blue Grass, and if J Boys Echo heads there too, it’s possible that the Wood is the beneficiary.
What’s Next (Derby Trail) – Our next post will review the Fountain of Youth, also run Saturday. This week (March 11th), they run the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, with the Rebel at Oaklawn next week.