Friday, March 2, 2012

Sophomore Spotlight: Gotham Analysis

--Brian DiDonato

This race clearly goes through Hansen (Tapit), but you have to think that with a large field and a few horses who have shown speed in the past that he won’t be allowed to waltz along on the front end on a track that should be wet. King and Crusader (Lion Heart) may hold the key to the race, then, because he is a speedy sprinter/miler who will undoubtedly pester the defending champ as long as he lines up and breaks reasonably well. While Hansen loses the blinkers for this, he’s not all of a sudden going to become Silky Sullivan--he’ll be on or pressing the pace and he probably won’t be alone.

I’m hoping for a hot pace, as the Gotham marks the return of my current Derby horse--Done Talking (Broken Vow). I already laid out his merits a while back here, and while I’ve seen some impressive performances in the interim that have caught my eye, I’m still sticking with Done Talking as my number one for the time being.

That he’s been off a while due to an illness is less than optimal, but he’s made up for lost time with a string of long-distance works at Laurel and trainer Hamilton Smith appears to be pleased with how his charge is doing. The conditioner has had decent enough recent success with horses coming off similar breaks over the past year, posting a $2.61 ROI with three wins from 19 tries.

The most flattering development for Done Talking has been subsequent performances turned in by El Padrino (Pulpit), who finished a head in front of Done Talking in the Remsen with a significantly better trip (closer to a very slow pace). This year, El Padrino has run a 100 Beyer (up from a 79 in the Remsen) to take a tough Gulfstream allowance Jan. 29, and then he scored at 4-5 in last weekend’s GII Risen Star S. with a 98 Beyer.

El Padrino isn’t the only runner to flatter the form of the Remsen, despite the top two finishers having not returned yet. Fifth-place finisher Our Entourage (Street Cry {Ire}) took a turfy optional claimer in Florida with an 85 Beyer Feb. 25; seventh-place finisher Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) was a solid second behind Alpha (Bernardini) in the Jan. 7 Count Fleet S. here with an 81 Beyer; and eighth-place finisher Speightscity (Speightstown) came back to take an allowance before, most recently, earning an 85 Beyer for a runner-up effort in the GIII Withers S. Feb. 4. Between the subsequent Beyers earned by Remsen also-rans, his trip in that race and the time off to develop, it’s very likely that Done Talking is capable of running much faster on the Beyer scale than he did last year.

My biggest concern, despite the pace not materializing, could be the distance (I’m not worried about a wet track--Done Talking has a 412 Tomlinson rating and plenty of runners in his family have done well in the slop). He has won twice going shorter than this, but the Remsen was nine furlongs and he seems like the type who will always do better with more ground.

At worst, I’m expecting a late-running third or fourth that sets him up for better going forward. At best, I’m expecting Done Talking to blow by the field late at double digit odds. Since a victory for Done Talking will depend on Hansen being softened up, in addition to a win bet I’ll also play some exactas with Done Talking and other closers--namely Tiger Walk (Tale of the Cat), My Adonis (Pleasantly Perfect) (who may or may not be a closer), Suns Out Guns Out (Empire Maker) and Stealcase (Lawyer Ron).

Done Talking works at Laurel last Saturday

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