El Areeb Confirmed to Start in Gotham Stakes
Photo: Coglianese Photos
El Areeb wins the 2017 Withers

M M G Stables' multiple grade 3 winner El Areeb will return to Aqueduct Racetrack for his next start in the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) March 4, trainer Cal Lynch said Feb 22.

El Areeb has won four consecutive races, including the Jerome Stakes (G3) and Withers Stakes (G3) this winter at Aqueduct, to make himself one of the leading contenders on the Triple Crown trail.

"I wanted to make sure (to) give him the time coming out of the last race just to make sure everything was OK," Lynch said. "I spoke to the bosses this morning and told them I was comfortable that the horse was doing really well, so I didn't see any reason not to go ahead and take a run at the Gotham."

A son of Exchange Rate, El Areeb had his first work back since the Feb. 4 Withers last Saturday at Laurel Park. He went four furlongs in :47 4/5 and galloped out to five furlongs in 1:00 and six in 1:13.

NOVAK: El Areeb Too Good in Withers

"The horse came out of his work really good. He'll have one more work and then we'll go to the Gotham," Lynch said. "We're still going race by race. We've got no plans beyond this one race."

El Areeb broke his maiden Oct. 15 at Laurel and captured the James F. Lewis III Nov. 19 in his stakes debut to cap his juvenile season. He opened his 3-year-old campaign with an 11 1/4-length romp in the Jerome Jan. 2 and returned with a 4 1/4-length score in the 1 1/16-mile Withers.

ANGST: El Areeb Delivers Dominating Performance in Jerome

Like the Withers, the Gotham is run at 1 1/16 miles and serves as the final prep for Aqueduct's 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (G2) April 8.

"There's a few less variables for us going there," Lynch said. "Knowing that your horse likes the inner track is definitely an advantage. That can be a quirky track sometimes. Some horses handle it and some don't. We've been lucky this year. Most of our guys seem to like it up there, so we'll go back again."

Lynch said El Areeb, who was bred by Dixiana Farms, is expected to have his final pre-Gotham work Feb. 26 at Laurel with regular rider Trevor McCarthy up. 

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