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Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand

Gotham Winner Returns to Florida; Wood Next

Undefeated Samraat doing great after narrow Aqueduct win, trainer Rick Violette says.

All but assured of a berth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), undefeated Samraat was on his way back to Florida on the afternoon of March 2, a day after his Gotham Stakes (gr. III) victory at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Samraat ran his victory streak to five with a narrow hard-fought win over Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the 1 1/16-mile Gotham. The New York-bred son of Noble Causeway will spend most of the next month at Palm Meadows training facility ahead of a scheduled start in the $1 million Wood Memorial (gr. I) April 5 at Aqueduct.

"He came out of the race great," said Rick Violette, who trains Samraat for Leonard Riggio's My Meadowview Farms. "He's a little tired, but he's supposed to be. Going to Florida this time is a different function than it was last time going down there. It's more for him to get some sun, graze a little bit...they spend 75% of their energy keeping warm, no matter how many heat lamps or blankets you have. We're not going to have to do any of that. We'll have a fan."

With 60 points50 for his Gotham victory and 10 for his win in the Withers Stakes (gr. III)in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, Samraat leads all 3-year-olds for a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs in the May 3 Run for the Roses.

Also emerging from the Gotham in top shape was Wounded Warrior Stables and Anthony C. Roberston's Uncle Sigh, runner-up to Samraat for the second time in as many starts, this time by a neck.

"He came out of the race excellent," said trainer Gary Contessa. "He's happy, he ate up, and he looks like a million bucks."

In the Gotham, Uncle Sigh pressed pacesetter In Trouble in second to the top of the stretch before Samraat swept to the lead from the outside. Those two and eventual third-place finisher In Trouble raced in tight quarters to the finish. It was a different experience for Uncle Sigh, who had dictated the pace in the Withers Feb. 1.

"Having to run the way he did probably didn't help us any (in the Gotham)," said Contessa. "Last time it was on the lead, (in the Gotham) it was between horses, getting jostled."

Contessa said that "unless somebody writes a New York-bred points race," Uncle Sigh likely will make his next start in the Wood Memorial.

Meanwhile, In Trouble, following a valiant 3-year-old debut and his first start around two turns, is also likely to return in the Wood, trainer Tony Dutrow said.

After leading the field through fractions of :23.85 and :48.30 for the half mile, the Tiz Wonderful colt was taken on by both Samraat and Uncle Sigh entering the stretch, but dug in along the rail and was beaten by only a half-length.

"You can't be too disappointed when they run like that," said Dutrow. "Right now my mind is on the Wood Memorial. He still has questions to answer and I'm going to look at (the Wood)."

Owned by Team D, the bay colt was undefeated entering the race with two wins as a juvenile, including the Futurity Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park. The Gotham, his first start in five months, marked his first race beyond six furlongs.