Class Will Rule in the Gotham

By Dick Downey

While we haven't been covering Saratoga County as a potential Kentucky Derby contender on
, he is nominated to the Triple Crown, and there are several angles going for him in the Gotham. First of all, this is a one-turn race, and he may very well be the best one-turn horse in here, unless it's our fourth choice, who is an obvious pick to win, but not our pick. But more on that later.

Saratoga County broke his maiden by 9 1/4 lengths in his debut at, of all places, Saratoga Race Course in a $75,000 claiming race back in August. A month later he was beaten a length at Belmont by Smokume, who peaked at age two. After a four-month break, he ran within 1 1/4 lengths of Wynn Dot Comma, who defeated Eurosilver in the Swale Stakes last Saturday, in the Grade III Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream, followed up by a third place finish to Limehouse, who won the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby last Saturday, in the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes.

Saratoga County has had multiple trouble lines. In fact, his every race has seen trouble. To win here he must avoid things like getting away slowly and being bumped (debut race), stumbling at the start and being bumped (second race), being floated out (Spectacular Bid), and hitting the gate and being checked early (Hutcheson).

His jockey today, Javier Castellano, is winning at a 50% clip on the main track at Aqueduct this year and will know how to keep the colt out of trouble. Saratoga County ran the final furlong of the Hutcheson in 11 4/5 seconds. We believe he'll benefit from the hot pace that will surely be set by Deputy Storm. He's our choice.

We believe Pomeroy, in his first start of 2004, is primed for a top effort with the addition of blinkers and Lasix. This may well be his "Kentucky Derby." Trainer Patrick Biancone won the Gotham two years ago with Mayakovsky for owner Michael Tabor, who has a piece of Pomeroy. He has faced quality competition, defeating Mr. Jester and The Cliff's Edge (although DQ'd) in the Grade III Kentucky Cup Juvenile last fall, and he was 2 3/4 lengths the better of Limehouse in the Grade II Saratoga Special.

Eddington is probably the best two-turn horse in the race, but this is a one turn race, and it's his first look at stakes competition. We love the last Beyer (101), and his last work (a bullet, five in :59), but we are not sure that he's quick enough for the pace here.

That bring us to Redskin Warrior, who comes into the race off a 105 Beyer in the six-furlong Best Turn, a listed stake. Our sense is that the colt is strictly a one-turn type--no reason to throw him out based on that--but also that he's immature and will not be able to handle the quality he sees here, which is unlike anything he's ever faced. He's beaten nothing up to this point. If he beats these, our hat is off to him.

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