Repole Stable’s Overanalyze , winner of the Remsen (gr. II) and Futurity (gr. II) stakes last year in New York, will have his work cut out for him in the March 2 Gotham Stakes (gr. III), drawing the far outside post in the field of 12.
The son of Dixie Union—Unacloud, by Unaccounted For, will be making his 2013 debut for trainer Todd Pletcher in the $4000,0000 event for 3-year-olds. John Velazquez will be aboard the 5-2 morning line choice in the 1 1/16-mile race at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Freshened after the Remsen, in which he nosed out the well-regarded Normandy Invasion Nov. 24, Overanalyze spent the winter at Pletcher's base at Palm Meadows in Florida, where he has been training steadily. His final prep for the Gotham was a half-mile breeze Feb. 25 in 48.75 seconds.
"I think he had an incredible 2-year-old campaign," said owner Mike Repole, whose Stay Thirsty won the 2011 Gotham. "Overanalyze's two graded stakes wins were very, very impressive. He showed courage and a big heart in coming back to win the Remsen, and those are things you can't measure.
"He's training really good; Todd told me he's ready," added Repole. "He's definitely moved up from two to three, and we'll find out Saturday where he is. It's been four months and we're excited about getting him here."
With a short run into the first turn, it is imperative that Overanalyze breaks sharply and doesn’t get hung too wide on the turn. There are several horses in the field who have shown early foot, which could make Velazquez’s task even harder.
Among those who like to be on or near the pace are the undefeated Vyjack (post 8), winner of the Jerome Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 5; Now and Then (post 6) and Elnaawi (post 9), two of three horses saddled in the Gotham by Kiaran McLaughlin; Ore Pass (post 3), coming off a victory in the Frank Whiteley Stakes at Laurel Park; Withers (gr. III) runner-up Escapefromreality, who will have to show speed breaking from post 2; and Jerome runner-up Siete de Oros, who set a pressured pace in the Withers with second race blinkers on; he breaks from post 7.
Although West Hills Giant, trained by John Terranova, has never been on the lead in five career starts, he does get blinkers for the first time and will be breaking just inside Overanalyze in post 11, so he also has to get away from there quickly.
In addition, Overanalyze, along with Vyjack, will carry top weight of 123 pounds and concede seven pounds to the rest of the field.
Second choice at 3-1 on the morning line, Vyjack is a son of Into Mischief who has won all three of his starts, all at the Big A. Carrying the colors of Dave Wilkenfeld's Pick Six Racing, Vyjack won both of his 2012 races and returned to post a hard-fought head decision over fellow Gotham entrant Siete de Oros in the Jerome, his first effort around two turns.
"He's got a lot of talent," said trainer Rudy Rodriguez of Vyjack, who will have a new jockey Saturday in Joel Rosario. "But the competition is going to get tougher, and he's going to have to keep stepping up."
The other McLaughlin horse entered is Transparent, who like Now and Then, is owned by Darley Stable. The son of Bernardini has shown tremendous improvement with the addition of blinkers, finishing second to Revolutionary in a Dec. 28 maiden race at a mile, and then overcoming a total wipeout on the backstretch to break his maiden by 5 3/4 lengths going 1 1/16 miles.
Elnaawi, a son of Street Sense owned by Shadwell Stable, is coming off a four-length maiden score at Aqueduct Jan. 12 and gets Lasix for the first time. He will be ridden once again by Channing Hill. Now and Then, by Tiznow , has run only once in his career, breaking his maiden going six furlongs on Jan. 20, while stalking the pace, so he could be used to assure a lively pace on Saturday.
Another dangerous horse in the Gotham is Sky Captain, trained by Mark Casse for John Oxley. This is the same team that has Dynamic Sky , winner of the Pasco and runner-up in the Sam F. Davis (gr. III), both at Tampa Bay Downs, and also Uncaptured , winner of last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II). Sky Captain broke his maiden by 10 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs last July and debuted this year with a strong second-place finish behind Cerro in a 1 1/8-mile allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park. The son of Sky Mesa gets the services of Miguel Mena and will break from post 10.
Although Vyjack, Escapefromreality, and Siete de Oros all have excellent credentials in stakes over the inner track this year, the class of the field is still Overanalyze, and if he can overcome his post and win the Gotham he will assuredly propel himself up near the top of most Derby lists.
$400,000 Gotham Stakes (Race 10, approximate post 5:02 p.m. EST), 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Champion Boy (KY), E. Castro, 116, J.C. Guerrero
2. Escapefromreality (NY), D. Cohen, 116, D. A. Schettino
3. Ore Pass (CA), J. Pimentel, 116, M. J. Trombetta
4. Amerigo Vespucci (KY), E.D. Rodriguez, 116, T. Tullock, Jr.
5. Transparent (FLA), I Ortiz, Jr., 116, K.P. McLaughlin
6. Now and Then (KY), J. Alvarado, 116, K.P. McLaughlin
7. Siete de Oros (PA), A.S. Arroyo, 116, R. Preciado
8. Vyjack (KY), J. Rosario, 123, R.R. Rodriguez
9. Elnaawi (KY), C. Hill, 116, K.P. McLaughlin
10. Sky Captain (KY), M. Mena, 116, M. Casse
11. West Hills Giant. (NY), J.L. Espinoza, 116, J.P. Terranova III
12. Overanalyze (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 123, T.A. Pletcher
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer