M M G Stables' multiple grade 3 winner El Areeb signaled his readiness for the $350,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) March 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack with a sharp five-furlong breeze over Laurel Park's main track Feb. 26.
Partnered with regular rider Trevor McCarthy, El Areeb registered the fastest time of eight horses at the distance Sunday in 1:00 4/5. The next-fastest time of 1:02 flat was posted by Cal Lynch-trained stablemate Conquest See Ya.
"We're delighted. It was a very good work this morning," Lynch said. "He came back good and scoped good and went right in his feed tub. So far, all systems are a go."
Sunday's work was the second at Laurel for El Areeb since his 4 1/4-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Withers Stakes (G3) Feb. 4 at Aqueduct. He went a half-mile in :47 4/5 Feb. 18.
"The track wasn't as fast as it was last week and he still went in a minute and change. That's the way he is. He's going to work quick whenever he thinks he's going to do something with Trevor, but he did it all in hand," Lynch said. "He galloped out (to six furlongs) in 1:13 all the way back around to the three-eighths pole. He's in good form and the horse is doing well. tThat's why we're going ahead and decided we'd take a shot at the Gotham rather than wait any longer. You have to go ahead and run them when they're good."
The son of Exchange Rate has reeled off four consecutive victories dating back to his maiden victory during the fall at Laurel, where he also captured his stakes debut in the James F. Lewis III Stakes in November. He is undefeated in two starts this year over Aqueduct's inner track, also winning the one-mile-70-yard Jerome Stakes (G3) by 11 1/4 lengths over a muddy, sealed surface Jan. 2.
Lynch said El Areeb is scheduled to leave Laurel for New York after training March 3.
Bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Farm, El Areeb is out of the A.P. Indy mare Feathered Diamond. M M G Stables purchased El Areeb as a 2-year-old for $340,000 at the 2016 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March 2-year-olds in training sale from Eisaman Equine.