Godolphin's Kentucky Derby hopeful Enticed has settled in to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's barn at Belmont Park for his bid in Saturday's Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham at a mile, and went out for an easy gallop over the training track Friday morning.
Originally scheduled to arrive in New York on Wednesday along with fellow Gotham entrants Whereshetoldmetogo and Dale Romans trainees Free Drop Billy and Cove Blue, Enticed's trip from Florida was delayed a day due to a winter storm in the Northeast, but McLaughlin said Thursday's sojourn was smooth sailing for the Medaglia d'Oro colt.
“It was up to Mother Nature whether we got there or not, but it all worked out,” said McLaughlin by phone. “Tex Sutton did a very good job for us. It only took six hours to go from barn to barn, which is great. So, we're happy we got there and he trained well this morning. We're all systems go.”
Enticed, a game winner of the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in November at Churchill Downs, will be making his second start of the year in the Gotham. In his seasonal bow, he turned in a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Holy Bull at 1 1/16 miles on February 3 at Gulfstream Park, where he raced mid-pack along the rail and failed to menace, finishing 14 ¾ lengths behind Audible.
Due to travel considerations, Enticed was cross-entered in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, also on Saturday, as a back-up plan, said McLaughlin.
“It was probably a jump ball,” he said. “Both races, the Tampa Bay Derby and the Gotham, are difficult, but we like our post position in the Gotham, we're happy to have Junior [Alvarado] back and we think he'll really like the cooler weather.”
Enticed, installed as the 7-2 third-choice on the morning line, has drawn the outside post 9 in the Gotham, contested around one turn and worth 50-20-10-5 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill. He will be ridden again by Alvarado, who was aboard for the colt's first three starts, including his head victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
“The main thing is that we're out in the clear and he can see what's going on inside of him,” McLaughlin said of the post. “Whether we're laying second or fifth, we can work out a good trip and hopefully he runs a big race. Even if we're a little bit wide, there's positives to that too if we can be clean-faced instead of being on the inside and taking all the dirt like he was in the Holy Bull, that's what we hope. He had never been down inside taking dirt like he did that day, so we're hoping that's why he didn't fire.”
Albaugh Family Stable's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity winner Free Drop Billy, second last time out in the Holy Bull, was a race-day scratch from last Saturday's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, won by longshot stablemate Promises Fulfilled, and was likewise entered in both the Gotham and Tampa Bay Derby.
Stabled at Aqueduct Racetrack, the chestnut colt by Union Rags galloped over the local surface Friday with Cove Blue, a maiden winner by Ghostzapper, at 9:30 a.m.as they wrapped up their preparations for the Gotham.
Free Drop Billy is tabbed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite and will be ridden from post 6 by the current leading rider at Aqueduct, Dylan Davis. Jockey Chris Landeros will ship in to ride Cove Blue, 30-1, from post 2.
Albaugh and Romans teamed up to win last year's Gotham with J Boy's Echo, who turned three-wide into the stretch to edge clear in the stretch to win by 3 ½ lengths.
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