Godolphin Racing’s homebred Enticed took another solid step on the road to the Kentucky Derby (GI) Saturday with a 2 ¾-length victory in the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (GIII) at Aqueduct. In doing so, the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained son of Medaglia D’Oro vaulted himself to second position in the points standings for the Derby, picking up 50 with his Gotham win to go with the 13 he earned last year for a Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GI) win, a third in the Champagne Stakes (GI) and fourth earlier this year in the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII). Only San Felipe Stakes (GII) winner Bolt D’Oro has more points at 64.
Under jockey Junior Alvarado, Enticed broke from the outside post position and after gaining early position mid-pack, allowed Old Time Revival to set the pace in splits of :23.14, :46.43 and 1:11.77, while Cove Blue sat up close with Nine Route just to his outside. As the frontrunner led the field around the bend, Enticed was on the move and widest of all and, by the time he reached the top of the stretch, only had Old Time Revival to pass.
Alvarado guided Enticed back nearer to the rail for the stretch run and under little more than a hand ride, the pair drew away to victory, stopping the clock in 1:38.24 over a fast main track. Old Time Revival held on to second and was followed under the wire by 6-5 favored Free Drop Billy, Firenze Fire, Whereshetoldmetogo, Cove Blue, Nine Route, Beautiful Shot and Dial Operator.
“He broke good,” Alvarado said. “I wanted to make sure to be a little close, but I felt the first part of the race, we were going a little fast for the way the track was playing today. I wanted to make sure I kept him clear on the outside. I didn’t want to get him in trouble at all because he’s a horse that takes a while to get going.
“As soon as we turned for home, I knew it was just a matter of time when he switched leads for him to give me that next gear,” he continued. “As soon as he started moving along again, he was much the best horse today.”
At odds of nearly 7-2, Enticed was worth $8.80, $5.40 and $3.60. Old Time Revival completed the generous $123.25 exacta as the longest shot at odds of more than 35-1 and was good for $25.80 and $9. Free Drop Billy paid $3. The trifecta (50 cents) returned $284.75.
“It worked out great,” McLaughlin said. “Junior rode a great race. The ‘clean faced’ plan worked out well. It was a great run and everything went perfect. It was a great race.”
Enticed, who was bred in Kentucky, is out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Mineshaft mare It’s Tricky. He earned $180,000 for his Gotham win to bring his earnings total to $410,680 and his career line stands at 5-3-0-1. He’ll likely stay in New York for his final prep for the Kentucky Derby, according to his trainer.
“We’ll talk to [Godolphin’s] Jimmy Bell and hopefully look at the Wood Memorial,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve got to talk to Jimmy about bringing him back down [to Florida at Palm Meadows] and train and then fly him back for the Wood Memorial. He did well training here in Florida.”
Free Drop Billy, who was also entered to run in the Tampa Bay Derby but instead was sent to New York, added another 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to bring his total to 24.
“We got 10 points today,” trainer Romans said. “If he belongs, we’ll have enough points to get there. Right now, that should be enough. He still has to come back and run well next time. I think he ran a clean trip. There [were] some good things to see, but I wanted him to win. I thought he would win.
“He ran in the end away from the horse coming for fourth down the lane. That was good and he kept on going. Looked like he galloped out strong. Two turns would probably be better. We’ll take him back to Florida and probably go to the Blue Grass Stakes [GI, April 7]. He’s already a Grade 1 winner there, but we’ll go from there. We’re disappointed, but not discouraged.”