After initially planning to skip Saturday’s $300,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct, trainer Cathal Lynch called an audible and decided to run El Areeb. The gray colt is already well-positioned for the Kentucky Derby (G1), picking up a combined 20 points for wins in the Jerome (G3) and Withers (G3) this winter, and he can add another 50 points to his ledger with a Gotham victory.
Lynch was going to wait for the Wood Memorial (G2) in April but said he simply listened to his horse.
"That was my plan originally, to skip the Gotham and
wait for the Wood, but he's been doing so well," Lynch told the NYRA Press
Office. "That's a scary thing about him (in the mornings), he looks like
he's two-minute licking and then you look down at the watch and it's 47
(seconds), 1:00, 1:13, and stuff. He's clicking right along.
"He's been doing it fairly easy and acting like he wants to go do something. We won't stand in his way.”
El Areeb has won four straight races in convincing fashion. After concluding his juvenile season with a pair of sprint wins in Maryland, the Laurel-based sophomore stretched out to two turns with an 11-length romp in the January 2 Jerome but a muddy track led to questions about its legitimacy.
He backed it up with another sterling performance in the February 4 Withers on a fast track, finishing full of run in a widening 4 ¼-length decision, and El Areeb has posted commendable BRIS Speed ratings of 100 and 99 in his last two outings.
He will face eight challengers in the 1 1/16-mile Gotham and break from post 4 with regular rider Trevor McCarthy.
Santa Anita maiden winner So Conflated, who exits a victory in January 21 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields, will invade for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner Doug O’Neil. The gray ridgling was entered in last Saturday’s Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds but withdrew after receiving post 14. So Conflated will start from post 8 Saturday and Mario Gutierrez will be in for the mount.
Action Everyday, who opened his career with maiden and entry-level allowance wins at Tampa, will ship in from Florida for Todd Pletcher and picks up a new jockey in Rajiv Maragh.
True Timber and J Boys Echo, second and third in the Withers, are back for the Gotham along with fifth-placer Apartfromthecrowd. Completing the line-up are last-out maiden winners Cloud Computing and Miggsy; former claimer Gaetano; and winless Glennrichment.
(Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)