Aqueduct inner track kingpin Summer Doldrums tries to defend his turf against eight rivals, including several quick invaders in Saturday’s $200,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III).
Summer Doldrums, trained by Rick Violette and owned by Klaravich Stables and William H,. Lawrence, has won three of his last four starts, including an impressive 5 1/4-length romp in the Whirlaway Stakes Feb. 10. In his prior start, he crushed an allowance field by 8 1/2 lengths. After having been ridden by six different jockeys in six career starts, he finally will get to see a familiar face on his back, as Mike Luzzi gets the return call on the son of Street Cry.
Summer Doldrums’ one blemish on his record was a dull seventh-place finish in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), which still has Violette baffled. He broke his maiden at Belmont last October, so no one can say he’s just an inner track horse.
Violette is hoping the Gotham serves as a springboard to the Derby trail and a shot at the heavy hitters in the Wood Memorial (gr. I).
“The Kentucky Derby is a rite of spring,” Violette said. “Everybody wants to be there. With Summer Doldrums, we thought he would improve around two turns and be better at three than he was at two. Off the Remsen, we needed to re-evaluate.
“Aside from the Remsen, he’s got a nice string of races and it’s getting to be where he’s a natural fit around two turns. He’s so adaptable. He can stalk the pace or be on the lead, whatever the rider wants.”
Because Summer Doldrums’ Whirlaway score was so big, Violette, fearing a bounce, decided to “under train” him for the Gotham and hopes he can turn in another big effort Saturday.
“I hope he doesn’t bounce too far,” Violette said. “I’ve been careful training him since his last race. He was a little tired for a couple of days, but that’s normal.”
Summer Doldrums showed he could rate off the pace two starts back, but won the Whirlaway battling for the lead all the way before drawing off in the stretch.
In the Gotham, he drew post 3, and will have to contend with three quick horses breaking from the outside. All three are coming off fast sprints and all seem to want to be on or near the lead.
Wafi City, owned by Darley Stable has won two of his three starts and is coming off a six-furlong allowance win in 1:10 2/5 for Kiaran McLaughlin. Longley, trained by Graham Motion, comes up from Florida, where he finished third in a strong allowance race won by Spin Master. And Wollaston Bay has won three of his last four starts for Gary Sciacca, including a wire-to-wire score in the six-furlong Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes in 1:10 3/5.
Also likely to attract support is Sir Whimsey, who was second in the Whirlaway and third in the Count Fleet for Mike Miceli. And an interesting horse is Believeinmenow, who won back-to-back races in romps in November and December before disappointing in the Count Fleet. He was sent to Florida by trainer Jim Bond, where he turned in five strong works at Palm Meadows before returning up north for the Gotham.
$200,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, 4:20 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Cowtown Cat (KY), 116, Ramon A. Dominguez
2. Mint Slewlep (KY), 116, Jose C. Caraballo
3. Summer Doldrums (KY), 120, Michael J. Luzzi
4. Sir Whimsey (VA), 116, Channing Hill
5. Believeinmenow (FL), 116, Eddie M. Martin, Jr.
6. Wollaston Bay (FL), 116, Shaun Bridgmohan
7. How Sweet He Is (FL), 116, Charles C. Lopez
8. Longley (KY), 116, Eibar Coa
9. Wafi City (KY), 116, Alan Garcia