Remembering the 1992 Gotham; ‘Lure & Devil His Due slugging it out for the entire mile’
The Road to the Kentucky Derby series takes another swing through Aqueduct Saturday for the $400,000 Gotham (G3), with a well-matched field of eight sophomores lining for the 1 1/16-mile test on the inner track.
Shagaf, a Bernardini colt who shares common ownership with leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Mohaymen (Shadwell Stable) but a different trainer in Chad Brown, will bring a 2-for-2 record into his stakes debut and is listed as the 3-1 favorite on the morning line. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides.
Other contenders include Withers (G3) winner Sunny Ridge, who isn’t under serious consideration for the Kentucky Derby with the Preakness (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) more realistic targets according to owner/breeder Dennis Drazin; Withers third-placer Adventist; rebound candidate Conquest Big E, who was reportedly sick and didn’t get the opportunity to show his best when fourth in the Holy Bull (G2); and Rally Cry, a promising colt making his stakes bow for Todd Pletcher.
The Gotham has been held on both the main and inner track in previous years, shortened to a one-turn mile when run over the main oval, and Secretariat is the only winner to complete a Kentucky Derby parlay. But a number of other prominent Thoroughbreds have contested the local prep for the Wood Memorial (G1), including Hall of Famer Easy Goer, the 1989 winner.
The 1992 edition wound up having little impact upon the Triple Crown, but it featured a pair of future heavyweights in Lure and Devil His Due. They combined to win 35 races and earn more than $6.4 million in highly-accomplished careers.
The Gotham was run in early April on the main track and turned out to be strictly a two-horse race between Lure and Devil His Due, with the duo hooking up early on the backstretch and dueling through a sizzling 43 4/5 half-mile and 6-furlongs in a wicked 1:08 1/5.
With Lure pinned down along the rail the entire way, Devil His Due did his best to crowd his rival through the stretch drive. And Lure appeared to take an awkward step shortly after straightening for home and again nearing the wire as both horses began to tire from their exertions.
They simply went tooth-and-nail all the way in an epic battle that resulted in a fitting conclusion: a dead-heat for the win.
Devil His Due came back to win the Wood Memorial but could not carry his form to Churchill Downs, checking in a well-beaten 12th. The Allen Jerkens-trained son of Devil His Due didn’t return to the winner’s circle until the following spring, capturing the Gulfstream Park H. (G1), and the dark bay horse also won the first of back-to-back editions of the Suburban H. (G1) as well as the Pimlico Special (G1) in 1993.
He wound up triumphing in a total of nine graded stakes, with a remarkable 10 runner-up finishes at the Grade 1 level, and Devil His Due retired with a 41-11-12-3 scorecard and $3,920,405 in earnings.
Hall of Famer Lure skipped the Wood and trainer Shug McGaughey elected to pass on the Triple Crown completely following a disappointing second as the 2-5 favorite in the Lexington (G2) at Keeneland. The Danzig colt made his first turf attempt in September of his sophomore season, winning a Belmont allowance by 10 ¼ lengths, and two starts later dominated the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) in wire-to-wire fashion, romping by three lengths at Gulfstream Park.
Lure was favored in his remaining 15 starts over the 1993-94 seasons, overcoming post 13 to win a second straight Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, and he wrapped up a stellar career with a 25-14-8-0 record and a $2,515,289 bankroll.
Thoroughbred racing fans will always remember their tremendous battle in the Gotham Stakes.