Kentucky Derby Dream Bet Gotham Stakes pick from Vance Hanson
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.