Settling back well off the early pace in a change of tactics from his previous starts, Zayat Stables El Kabeir closed with a rush to win the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes going away by 2 3/4 lengths at Aqueduct on Saturday. Trained by John Terranova and ridden to victory by C.C. Lopez, the 3-year-old son of Ashford Stud stallion Scat Daddy covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.56. Tis Shea D edged Classy Class by a head for second, with Toasting Master finishing fourth and Tencendur fifth in a Kentucky Derby prep race that awarded 50, 20, 10 and 5 points, respectively, to the first four finishers.
The victory was the fourth in eight career starts for El Kabeir, produced from the Unbridled's Song mare Great Venue and bred in Florida by Rustlewood Farm. The gray colt previously won the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November, the G3 Jerome at Aqueduct in January, and most recently finished second to Far From Over in the G3 Withers after battling on the lead most of the way.
El Kabeir had just two horses beat after the opening quarter mile of the Gotham, with Toasting Master and Blame Jim battling on the front end through an opening fraction of :23.00. Those same two dueled past the half-mile in :46.63 and six furlongs in 1:12.01 as Lopez and El Kabeir began to move up along the rail rounding the far turn, then swinging wide into the stretch. The colt accelerated to the lead quickly, passing the mile marker in 1:38.89 and coming home the final sixteenth in an eye-catching 5 3/5 seconds.
“From 2 to 3 years old, he's a completely different horse. He was a speedy horse [at 2]. He was very fast, and we knew he was very talented, but we didn't know how he would be mentally. Now, we've focused on getting him to use his energy in the right way. He's gone the right way; he's that type. It's nice to see him completely change dimensions from 2 to 3, and that quickly.”
“When C.C. and I had talked about it before the race, we said, 'We have a fast horse here, the track is playing quick, let's not get cute,” Terranova said after the Gotham. “If he breaks clean, go.' We thought we'd be on the lead. When he broke like that I thought, wow, they must be going pretty quick. I saw the half, and I was a little more comfortable, but he was still pretty far back and was taking a lot of mud. And the track had not been playing that way at all today; I had not seen any deep closers do anything. With this level of horses, sometimes you can throw out biases. He overcame a lot today; it was a big jump forward. He got everything thrown at him today and he still managed to overcome it all. It was very impressive.”
“I think he thrives off the races, and training. The more you throw at him; the stronger he gets. I took him out the morning of this race and trained him a little bit. He seems to get sharper mentally, and physically he feels good. He thrives on the adrenaline.”
Terranova said El Kabeir would remain in New York and train up to the G1 TwinSpires Wood Memorial on April 4.
El Kaper was the co-highest price at $250,000 at the 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sale's August yearling sale, purchased for Zayat Stables by EQB, agent, from the consignment of Summerfield. He is the first foal from unraced Great Venue, a half sister to four stakes winners, including multiple graded stakes winner Too Much Bling.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.