Lugan Knight battles Arctic Arrogance for the win in the Jerome. (Joe Labozzetta)
LOUISVILLE Ky.— Bg Stables’ Jerome Stakes winner Lugan Knight will make his journey back to Aqueduct and headline Saturday’s $300,000 Gotham (GIII) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series.
The Gotham, which features an over-subscribed field of 14 3-year-olds plus one also-eligible, was carded as Race 9 at 4:56 p.m. Aqueduct’s first post is 12:45 p.m.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Lugan Knight has been based at Churchill Downs for his entire four-race career. Now stabled at Churchill Downs’ Trackside Louisville, Lugan Knight shipped to Aqueduct for the Jan. 7 Jerome where he gamely held off Arctic Arrogance by a half-length. Previously, the speedy son of Goldencents broke his maiden at Keeneland and finished third to Victory Formation and Two Eagles River in a first-level allowance contest at Churchill Downs. Jockey Dylan Davis will be back aboard from post No. 10.
Also entered in the Gotham is Ten Strike Racing’s Eyeing Clover. The undefeated son of Lookin At Lucky ships to Aqueduct from trainer Brad Cox’s Fair Grounds string following his eye-popping 9 3⁄4-length allowance victory on Jan. 28. The Gotham will be Eyeing Clover’s first start at a distance greater than six furlongs. Jockey Florent Geroux will make the trip from Fair Grounds for the mount and break from post 13.
Saturday’s Gotham drew an over-subscribed field of 15 colts and gelding that entered the one-mile race and, if the maximum 14 horses allowed start the race do, it would be the largest documented field in Gotham Stakes history.
The largest documented field since 1976 was in 2012 when Hansen defeated 12 rivals by three lengths.
Several Gotham Stakes contenders are cross-entered in other races across the country and their connections have yet to confirm which spot they will run in. Clear the Air was cross-entered in Saturday’s Gotham and John Battaglia Memorial. The Will Walden-trained colt was made the second also-eligible entrant in the John Battaglia Memorial due to purse earnings and would need two defections to make that field. Fort Warren is cross-entered in the City of Brotherly Love Stakes Monday at Parx while Recruiter is also cross-entered Monday at Parx in the Rittenhouse Square Stakes.
Arctic Arrogance did not enter this Saturday’s Gotham (GIII) due to illness No immediate plans have been released.
Fans can watch and wager on the Gotham at www.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Incorporated and the Kentucky Derby.
Michael McCarthy, trainer, Lugan Knight: “That was a new dimension that day in the Jerome. I thought his race before that at Churchill Downs looked like he got a little bit lost and distracted through the lane. When he hooked up with that horse in the Jerome (Arctic Arrogance), he eye-balled him the whole way down the lane. It looked like he wasn’t going to let him by.”
Cal Lynch, trainer, Recruiter: “He’s out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare and he’s very quick but doesn’t need the lead. He just happened to be on the lead in a couple of his races. He’s done everything right so far. We’ve shipped him all over and he doesn’t need to run on any one track. He has no problem jumping on the van and going to race somewhere. He’s very straightforward and we’re very fortunate. He acts like a really nice horse, so fingers crossed that he runs well there. He’s earned the chance and we don’t like to go up there unless they act like they’re legit enough to do it.”