Owner Mike Repole will be well represented in Aqueduct's graded Triple Crown preps as the native of Queens, New York, plans to send out STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) in the $250,000 Gotham S. (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on March 5 and last year's unbeaten champion two-year-old UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie) in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on April 9.
"I've been watching the Gotham and the Wood for years, and I want to run horses where my friends and family can come out and cheer," said Repole, who races under the Repole Stable banner.
The two colts, both currently with trainer Todd Pletcher's string at Palm Meadows in Florida, will work in company on Sunday, according to Repole.
"Todd and I will talk on Sunday or Monday, but we're leaning 95 percent in the direction of the Gotham with Stay Thirsty," Repole said. "It's a little bit of a haul, but I love racing in New York and I like supporting New York racing. Even if Stay Thirsty wins by 10 lengths, his next race probably won't be in New York because we plan to have Uncle Mo in the Wood."
After breaking his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths at Saratoga in his second start, Stay Thirsty was second to Boys at Tosconova (Officer) in the Hopeful S. (G1) on Labor Day and fifth in November's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), a race Uncle Mo won by 4 1/4 lengths.
"Stay Thirsty has $110,000 in graded earnings, so he'll need to win or finish second or third in his next two starts," Repole noted. "The Gotham is a race that will be competitive, but we expect to be one of the favorites. Ramon Dominguez will ride him."
Uncle Mo will most likely prep for the Wood Memorial in the one-mile Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park on March 12, Repole said.
TOBY'S CORNER (Bellamy Road), winner of the 1 1/16-mile Whirlaway S. at Aqueduct on February 5, worked an easy five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 on the Tapeta training track at Fair Hill Training Center as he prepares for his expected next start in the Gotham.
"The work was good, very routine," said Graham Motion, who trains Toby's Corner for Dianne Cotter. "I actually moved it up a bit because of the bad weather, but I had only planned on giving him one work between races and everything has gone smoothly. He's doing super."
Toby's Corner looks for his fourth consecutive victory in the Gotham, having taken a first-level optional claimer and maiden race at Laurel prior to the Whirlaway.
"I was a little concerned at the eighth-pole (in the Whirlaway) because it looked for a second like he might wait on horses, but once Eddie (Castro) got him straightened away, he went on and won kind of comfortably."
In addition to Stay Thirsty and Toby's Corner, the Gotham is likely to attract NACHO SAINT (Yes It's True), NORMAN ASBJORNSON (Real Quiet), PREACHINTOTHEDEVIL (Pulpit) and RESCIND THE TRADE (Put It Back). DAWLY (Awesome Again), MONZON (Thunder Gulch) and STARSHIP CAESAR (Repent) are possible for the race according to NYRA Stakes Coordinator Andrew Byrnes.
CROSSBOW (Bernardini), who drew the rail for Saturday's Hutcheson S. (G2) at Gulfstream, could scratch in favor of the Gotham, according to the Blood-Horse.
On the Gotham undercard, SENSATIONAL SLAM (Grand Slam) and VENGEFUL WILDCAT (Vindication) are among the possible entrants for the $65,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela at six furlongs.