The Grade 3 Gotham Stakes featured the best of New York, with nine facing the starter in this $200,000, one-mile event on the Aqueduct main track. Eddington was sent off as the 7-5 favorite. As the field got underway down the long backstretch, Jorge Chavez sent 8-1 shot Deputy Storm to the front and he set an honest pace of 21.88 and 43.67 as 9-1 shot Pomeroy pressed him to the outside. Rounding the turn, 9-2 shot Saratoga County, who had settled in fifth early, advanced along the rail then came out wide for the stretch run. Saratoga County closed strongly down the stretch, collaring Pomeroy with a furlong to go and drew clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:35.53 over the good track. It was another 3/4 lengths back to the favorite Eddington in third. Results Chart
Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I had a good hold of him and he broke clean. We stayed behind Chavez (jockey Jorge Chavez on Deputy Storm) and followed him until he gave it up and then we went by."
Winning trainer George Weaver remained non-committal about the Derby. He said, "I pretty much just put the bridle on him and let him go. We knew there would be a good pace in here, and all we wanted was a clean break and a chance to stalk the leaders. This was a terrific win for him. Now, we will probably consider the Lexington [Keeneland, Saturday, April 17]. Everything with him so far, including the Gotham, has been logical progression. Those three big races on April 10th (Wood Memorial, Toyota Blue Grass, Arkansas Derby) are all two turns and a mile and an eighth, but they come up too soon for this horse. The Lexington is the right next step; plus his pedigree doesn't exactly scream, `mile and a quarter.'"
The Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway is Kentucky's first major Triple Crown prep race. Eleven gathered here, with top jockey Jerry Bailey in to ride 3-5 favorite Birdstone. When the gate opened, 16-1 shot Sinister G sprinted to a clear lead and set the pace two wide off the rail, leading the field through a half in 47.33 with 5-1 shot Silver Minister and 7-1 Stolen Time stalking him. 19-1 shot That's An Outrage, in sixth early, came out five wide on the far turn to challenge for the lead. However, Sinister G continued to hold off all challenges into the stretch drive. Down the lane, late-running 55-1 shot Tricky Taboo rallied late as That's An Outrage weakened, getting up for second. Another late closer, 11-1 shot Little Matth Man, went wide after trailing the entire field early on, and got up for third. But they were no match for Sinister G, who held onto the lead to win 1 1/2 lengths clear of Tricky Taboo in a time of 1:50.71 for the 1 1/8 mile feature. It was another 3/4 length back to Little Matth Man in third, and just a length back from him to That's an Outrage in fourth. Heavy favorite Birdstone, who got caught in traffic on the first turn and was as far back as sixth after a half mile, had no rally and finished fifth. Results Chart
Winning jockey Paul Toscano, commenting on the wet-fast sealed track, said, "I was a little concerned once it was sealed. I thought the strategy had to change. I had the lead, so that was fine.''
Winning owner John Toscano III said, "We'll take him back to New York and play it by ear. This is a great win for our family." Sinister G will make his next start in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
On the undercard of the Lane's End Stakes was the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. 39-1 longshot Brass Hat stalked the pace out four wide early, then came on strong down the lane to draw 3 3/4 lengths clear of 7-2 second choice Tales of Glory in 1:44.36. 3-5 co-favorites El Prado Rob and Pies Prospect (coupled in the wagering) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Moving west to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, nine went to post in the $200,000 Rebel Stakes, the major local prep for the Arkansas Derby. John Velazquez sent 2-1 lukewarm favorite Purge to the early lead, with 7-2 second choice Smarty Jones stayed in close contact the whole way through 3/4 in 1:12.10. Turning for home, Smarty Jones took command and drew away down the lane, winning by 3 1/4 widening lengths in 1:42.07 for the 1 1/16 miles. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to 6-1 shot Pro Prado in third. 5-2 second choice Mr. Jester stalked the pace in third early but came up empty for the drive, finishing sixth. Results Chart
Winning jockey Elliott Stewart said, He finished strong. Early on he settled a little more, and at the end he was a stronger horse." Trainer John Servis said he would start next in the Arkansas Derby. Should the Rebel Stakes winner, Smarty Jones go on to win both the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby, he would win Oaklawn's Centennial Bonus, a $5 million payoff.