Chad Brown holds a very strong hand with two entrants in this Grade 3 Gotham, and I’m not trying to beat his likely favorite #3 Highly Motivated. This horse has shown talent from day one, but really came to hand last fall with that impressive maiden win over the highly-regarded Known Agenda. He followed that performance with another win against stakes company at Keeneland, achieving a career-best 108 TimeformUS Speed Figure. That’s a solid number for a two-year-old, and horses have run back out of that race to validate that speed figure. He’s stretching out in distance off the layoff, but he’s bred to get at least this far. And Chad Brown has strong statistics with horses coming off layoffs of this type in graded stakes on dirt.
Highly Motivated also figures to get a favorable setup with the TimeformUS Pace Projector predicting a fast pace.
That pace is likely to be set by the Bob Baffert shipper #7 Freedom Fighter. This horse earned an impressive 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the San Vicente, as he gamely battled on inside of his heavily favored stablemate Concert Tour. However, he’s stretching out an extra furlong here, and I’m skeptical of his ability to get the mile distance. His dam was a pure sprinter, and his greatest asset does appear to be his speed.
I’m more interested in some of the local horses underneath. #6 Capo Kane could have trouble working out the right trip as he’ll have to rate off Freedom Fighter early, but he does figure to appreciate the return to a one-turn mile. The speed figure he earned last time out in the Withers puts him in the mix.
#5 Crowded Trade is an intriguing new face in this field as he moves up in class off an impressive debut victory. While that 99 TimeformUS Speed Figure is a little slower than the top figures of some others, he was hindered by an awkward start that day, and did well to run down the leader with a relentless stretch rally. This colt is bred to stretch out and can get a big piece of this at a square price.
Exacta Box: 3,5
Trifecta: 3 with 5,6 with 4,5,6,7