As the NFL celebrates its 100 anniversary, the league welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. The Chiefs, 1.5-point favorites in Super Bowl 54, won Super Bowl 4 23-7 over the Minnesota Vikings as 12-point underdogs. Their opponents, the San Francisco 49ers have won five of six Super Bowl appearances but none since a 1995 victory in Super Bowl 29.
2018 Gotham Stakes Odds, Picks
Gotham Stakes Preview and Odds
Coming into the one-mile Gotham, a bit of a question mark hangs over all three of the top contenders. Leading the pack with morning line odds of 9-5, Free Drop Billy was originally slated to run in last weekend's (G2) Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Florida, but was scratched from that event and instead pointed toward New York.
The most logical reason for the move is simply that trainer Dale Romans had three horses entered in the FOY - including the 19-1 longshot winner Promises Fulfilled - and he wanted to split up his top Derby contenders and give them each a chance to gain the most Derby points. That makes sense, and is probably the best way for Romans to keep all his owners happy.
It's curious that the Gotham is a one-turn mile, while the FOY is a 1 1/16 two-turn race, but it's difficult to see that as a determining factor in Romans' decision, as Free Drop Billy has won at 1 1/16 miles before. Perhaps more of a concern is that while he ran well to get second, he was beaten by more than five lengths in the (G2) Holy Bull Stakes in his 2018 debut. He probably has the most to prove on Saturday, and we're willing to give him one more chance to show he really deserves to be considered a top Derby contender.
Firenze Fire Needs to Find More Speed
The bloom has come off the rose a bit for Firenze Fire (9-2) who was hard-pressed to get up for the win in the ungraded Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct in mid-January as the heavy favorite, and then ran second in his next start at Aqueduct in the (G2) Withers Stakes. That race was at 1 1/8 miles, and so the big cut back in distance here could prove to be a benefit, but he's starting to show a lack of early speed that doesn't bode well as the competition level increases.
The last of the Big 3 in the Gotham is Enticed (7-2) who ran an even fourth in the Holy Bull, finishing more than nine lengths behind Free Drop Billy as the post-time race favorite. While it could be said that like Free Drop Billy he needed a race in 2018 just to get back into top racing form, one also has to wonder if he has simply fallen behind his peers who are getting better in their three-year-old season. He will also have to contend with breaking from the outside post on Saturday, a tough assignment in any one-turn mile at Aqueduct.
With the favorite on top, it seems the Gotham might offer some value with a longer shot in the exacta. Breaking from the inside gate, Dial Operator (10-1) came from well off the pace to grab the win in his first lifetime start last July at Monmouth Park. He was then away from racing for six months before making his 2018 debut at Laurel Park, where he again came from the back to win going away in an allowance-level event. Those races were at 5 and 5 1/2 lengths, respectively, and along with stretching out, he's taking a big step up in class. It's a tough assignment but should offer a lucrative payoff if he's up for it.
The Gotham Stakes goes Saturday, March 10 from Aqueduct Race Track in New York. It's the tenth and last race of the day at Aqueduct, and has an expected post time of 5:42 PM Eastern.
Entries w/ ML Odds
- Dial Operator (10-1)
- Cove Blue (30-1)
- Beautiful Shot (8-1)
- Whereshetoldmetogo (15-1)
- Firenze Fire (9-2)
- Free Drop Billy (9-5)
- Old Time Revival (15-1)
- Nine Route (30-1)
- Enticed (7-2)
Gotham Stakes Picks
- 1) #6 - Free Drop Billy
- 2) #1 - Dial Operator
- 3) #5 - Firenze Fire
- 4) #9 - Enticed
You can bet the Gotham Stakes and all of the 2018 Kentucky Derby qualifying races right up until the Run For The Roses on May 5 with an account at any top-rated online racebook.
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