In the second of three grade III stakes on the "Downs After Dark" card, Rothko got a perfect trip from the rail for Corey Nakatani. They came home 2 1/2 lengths in front while completing six furlongs in 1:09.40 on a fast track.
Rothko, who is a Padua Stables homebred, was able to sit fourth along the inside behind a wicked early pace. Nakatani swung the 4-year-old Arch colt three wide on the turn and took control in upper stretch.
Trainer Steve Asmussen earned his third Aristides victory.
Rothko collected his first stakes win. The bay colt out of the Time for a Change mare Raspberry Eggcream was making his first start since running last of five in the San Carlos Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park Feb. 25.
Asmussen put seven local drills into Rothko since the San Carlos.
Earlier in the day, Asmussen scratched Riley Tucker, who was one of the early favorites in the Aristides.
Will's Wildcat took the early lead but was quickly tackled by Cash Refund, who took the advantage on the far outside, and Whiskey Rebellion as they zipped an opening quarter mile in :21.42 and the half in :44.62. Rothko settled mid-pack in the field of seven at the rail and moved up on the leaders on the turn before Nakatani angled him to the outside to challenge for the lead. Through the stretch, Rothko took command to lead by 4 1/2 lengths at the furlong pole and held sway late to produce a convincing victory.
Will's Wildcat, ridden by Calvin Borel, was a clear second by 2 1/4 lengths over Whiskey Rebellion and Crystal Carman. Noble's Promise , the defending Aristides champion, finished fifth.
Rothko won three straight last year before finishing second in Santa Anita's Malibu Stakes (gr. II) Dec. 26. The Aristides was his fourth win in eight lifetime races and boosted his earnings to $228,552.
The winner carried 120 pounds and paid $4.20, $3, and $2.60 while topping a $35 exacta. Will's Wildcat, rebounding from an eighth-place showing in the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) May 5, returned $6 and $4.40. Whiskey Rebellion, in his stakes debut for trainer Akiko Gothard after three consecutive wins at Mountaineer, paid $4.60.