El Kabeir Assigned Favorite's Role Again in Gotham

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3/4/2015
4:30 pm EST

El Kabeir, on the strengths of his win in the Jerome Stakes and runner-up finish in the Withers Stakes, is the 8-5 morning line favorite among 10 entries in the Gotham Stakes.

The 1 1/16-mile Gotham will offer the winner 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, with 20, 10 and 5 going to the next three finishers. El Kabeir sits in fourth on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" leaderboard with 25 points. He'll be ridden again by C.C. Lopez from post 4.

"He's doing great," said trainer John Terranova of El Kabeir. "We've been lucky in the fact we've gotten several races under him so far. He's got a great foundation, so fitness is not a problem or an issue. We've had a couple of light days in between, but we never want to force anything. We just wait for the track and him to tell us. Hopefully we'll be good the next few weeks. So far this week, it looks like he's coming into this race really well."

Classy Class will look to improve upon his third-place finish in the Withers for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The bay colt has made only three career starts, with one win to his credit.

"We thought he ran very well in the Withers," said McLaughlin. "El Kabeir challenged him a lot earlier than we were expecting, and he ran on well. Now we'd prefer to see him come from off the pace; he doesn't need to be on the lead."

Classy Class drew post 3, just inside of El Kabeir, and is 7-2 on the morning line. Junior Alvarado will ride.

A son of Discreetly Mine, Classy Class broke his maiden brilliantly in his debut, sitting patiently off a rapid pace and drawing off to win the 6 1/2-furlong sprint by four lengths. Should Classy Class fail to establish himself on the Derby trail, a return to sprinting could be in his future, according to McLaughlin.

"Obviously, we always have the option of turning him back," said the trainer. "We think he's a two-turn horse, but if it doesn't work out, he showed in his debut he's a talented sprinter."

Trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole will send out a trio of horses, forming a three-pronged entry led by stretch-out sprinter Blame Jim.

Blame Jim has made only two career starts, but he boasts the top Beyer Speed Figure of the Pletcher/Repole entry of 88, which he earned in a six-furlong optional claimer on Feb. 8 at Gulfstream Park. Previously, the son of Sharp Humor took a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by three lengths on July 19 at Saratoga Race Course.

Blame Jim will break from outermost post 10 with the meet's leading rider, Jose Ortiz, in the irons.

Joining the Pletcher triumvirate are Dontbetwithbruno, who broke his maiden by a nose on Feb. 1 at the Big A, and Uninfluenced, who remains a maiden after two starts. Dontbetwithbruno will be ridden by Manny Franco from post 2, while Fernando Jara picks up the mount aboard Uninfluenced from post 8. The entry sits at 5-1 on the morning line.

Rounding out the field are Combat Diver, runner-up in the Miracle Wood at Laurel Park; Lieutenant Colonel, a recent maiden-breaker for trainer Chad Brown; Tiz Shea D, who broke his maiden in his debut on February 7 at Parx Racing; Toasting Master, a two-time winner for trainer Dale Romans; and Tencendur, fourth in the Withers.


Edited NYRA release with additional content by Dick Downey
@DowneyProfile