After delivering dominating victories in his first two starts this season in graded stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, El Areeb will return to the New York oval March 4 to try to continue that good form in the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3).
With no other graded stakes winners in the expected field of 10 3-year-olds entered in the 1 1/16-mile race, all eyes will initially focus on M M G Stables' El Areeb, who will start from post 4.
Trained by Cathal Lynch, El Areeb has won his past four races by a combined 29 1/2 lengths. Bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Farms, this year the Exchange Rate—Feathered Diamond, by A.P. Indy colt has captured the Jerome Stakes (G3) by 11 1/4 lengths Jan. 2 and the Withers Stakes (G3) by 4 1/4 lengths Feb. 4.
As if things weren't going well enough for El Areeb on race day, the surging gray or roan colt has delivered a pair of nice workouts since his dominating Withers performance. At Laurel Park Feb. 18, El Areeb completed a half-mile in :47 4/5, which was the fastest of 35 moves at the distance that day. He followed with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 4/5 Feb. 26 at Laurel, to earn the bullet from nine workers.
The Gotham is a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" race, offering points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 schedule. The points are used to determine the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) field should more than 20 horses be entered.
Already armed with 20 qualifying points, Lynch initially intended to pass on the Gotham and point El Areeb to the April 8 Wood Memorial Stakes (G2), which is worth 100-40-20-10 points, but was persuaded to reconsider by the horse's recent training.
"That was my plan originally, to skip the Gotham and wait for the Wood, but he's been doing so well," Lynch said. "That's a scary thing about him (in the mornings). He looks like he's two-minute licking and then you look down at the watch and it's :47, 1:00, 1:13, and stuff. He's clicking right along.
"He's been doing it fairly easy and acting like he wants to go do something," he continued. "We won't stand in his way. I didn't know if I really felt like sitting on him for another four weeks if he's going right."
The only other stakes winner in the field is Reddam Racing's So Conflated, who ships in from the Southern California-based stable of trainer Doug O'Neill. With regular jockey Mario Gutierrez making the trip east, So Conflated boasts the same connections who picked up their second Kentucky Derby victory last year with Nyquist .
After being put up following a disqualification to secure his maiden win in December at Santa Anita Park, So Conflated was shipped to Northern California for his stakes debut, where he won the California Derby Jan. 21 on the synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out St. Elias Stable's Action Everyday after the son of The Factor scored clear victories in his maiden debut and an optional-claiming allowance race this winter at Tampa Bay Downs. Trainer Chad Brown enters Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Cloud Computing off a clear victory in a six-furlong maiden race Feb. 11 at Aqueduct.
Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, March 04, 2017, Race 8
- 1 1/16m
- Inner track
- 3 yo
- 4:50 PM (local)
|1||1J Boys Echo (KY)||Robby Albarado||116||Dale L. Romans||8/1|
|2||2Gaetano (KY)||Cornelio H. Velasquez||116||Guadalupe Preciado||50/1|
|3||3Miggsy (KY)||Angel S. Arroyo||116||Rudy R. Rodriguez||15/1|
|4||4El Areeb (KY)||Trevor McCarthy||123||Cathal A. Lynch||6/5|
|5||5Glennrichment (KY)||Eric Cancel||116||Rudy R. Rodriguez||30/1|
|6||6True Timber (KY)||Kendrick Carmouche||116||Kiaran P. McLaughlin||6/1|
|7||7Apartfromthecrowd (FL)||Jorge A. Vargas, Jr.||116||Chad C. Brown||12/1|
|8||8So Conflated (FL)||Mario Gutierrez||120||Doug F. O'Neill||8/1|
|9||9Cloud Computing (KY)||Manuel Franco||116||Chad C. Brown||5/1|
|10||10Action Everyday (KY)||Rajiv Maragh||116||Todd A. Pletcher||10/1|