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In Trouble tops Gotham probables
Set to make his three-year-old debut on March 1 in the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham is Team D Stable's In Trouble, who was two-for-two as a juvenile including a 2 1/4-length victory in the Futurity in September at Belmont Park. The 1 1/16-mile Gotham will be the Tiz Wonderful colt's first start beyond six furlongs, having broken his maiden going 5 1/2 furlongs on August 10 at Saratoga Race Course.
"I don't know (about the distance), but I feel good about trying it," trainer Tony Dutrow said. "He's excellent; he's really, really happy. I feel the horse is ready to give us what he's got Saturday."
In Trouble has been based this winter at Palm Meadows Training Center, where he breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 on Friday morning.
Surfing U S A, second last time out to Top Billing in a first-level optional claimer at Gulfstream Park, heads a trio of possible contenders from trainer Todd Pletcher for the Gotham. Also under consideration for the race are Master Lightning, most recently fourth in the Miracle Wood at Laurel Park, and possibly Harpoon, beaten a nose in the Sam F. Davis on February 1 at Tampa Bay Downs.
"Surfing U S A probably got a little tired going long for the first time," Pletcher said of the Roman Ruler colt, beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Top Billing in the 1 1/16-mile race. "Aside from finishing second, we were pleased with his effort. Hopefully he will move forward in his second race going two turns."
Master Lightning, who closed out his juvenile campaign with a victory in an optional claimer at the Big A, opened 2014 with a seventh-place finish in the Jerome, and then improved his position slightly to finish 10 3/4 lengths back in the Miracle Wood.
"He put himself in an impossible position early on," Pletcher said. "We feel he's better than that race and should get another chance."
The trainer said he had not yet made a decision on where Harpoon, 1-4-0 from five starts, would next run but said the Gotham was under consideration.
Also expected in the Gotham, according to NYRA Stakes Coordinator Andrew Byrnes, are Treadway Racing Stable's New York-bred Deceived, an 8 1/4-length winner of an optional claimer last time out; Extrasexyhippzster, winner of two consecutive stakes, the Don Rickles on December 21 at the Big A and the Miracle Wood; Nashua runner-up Financial Mogul, most recently sixth in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park; and Withers runner-up Uncle Sigh.
In addition to Harpoon, others on the list of possibles are Coup de Grace, Cousin Stephen and Empire Dreams.