Kentucky Derby Dream Bet Gotham Stakes pick from Vance Hanson

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 5th, 2016

After shooting fish in a barrel selecting Mohaymen to take last week's $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2), the pressure is now off now to cash a $15 win bet to qualify for the final round of's $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet contest. However, the hope is to approach that round, which begins April 2, with the wind to our back by selecting and betting smartly in the remaining qualifying round races.

This week's feature is the $400,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct. Morning line favorite Shagef enters undefeated from two starts having won a blowout maiden victory over the Big A's main track in November, followed by a January 29 allowance at Gulfstream, both at a mile. Second choice Sunny Ridge has finished first or second in his past four starts, most recently taking his sophomore debut in the track-and-distance Withers (G3) on January 30.

Both look dangerous, but they're also coming off victories where they enjoyed relatively favorable trips. I'm going to take a mild shot against both with Adventist (#3, 4-1), who won on debut by more than 11 lengths going six furlongs in December, and then ran a decent third in the Withers in only his second start. Proving a bit hard to handle entering the clubhouse turn, the son of Any Given Saturday eventually settled in third down the backside, stalking from a three wide position.

The pace was rather moderate (:24 2/5, :49 4/5, and 1:14 3/5) in the Withers, and Sunny Ridge was well positioned ahead of Adventist to grab a narrow lead with a furlong to go. Meanwhile, any momentum Adventist could muster for his own late kick was compromised when he exchanged frequent bumps in the stretch with 1-2 favorite Flexibility, whom he ultimately outfinished. Nonetheless, it was a solid first stakes attempt against a more seasoned group and he's eligible to move forward in the Gotham with a better trip.