Cox Sends Out Four in Bid for First Gotham Win; Odds, Picks

The 72nd running of the Gotham (G3) on Saturday has attracted a wide-ranging field of 13 drawn to Aqueduct Racetrack by virtue of the race’s timing, its one-turn mile, $300,000 purse and, more importantly, the 105 Kentucky Derby qualifying points awarded to the first five finishers.

Brad Cox

Trainer Brad Cox, who has not yet won a Gotham, will send out a quartet of talented sophomores, including the intriguing Just a Touch, a son of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify who looked very impressive in his debut on Jan. 27 at the Fair Grounds.

Brad Cox will saddle four in the Gotham

Under Florent Geroux, the bay colt came from just off the pace and whizzed to a 4 ½-length win over Gun Party, a $1.7 million yearling purchase, covering the six furlongs in 1:10.50 and earning a 100 Equibase speed figure in the process.

Just a Touch is the 5-2 morning line favorite leaving from post 10 under Florent Geroux.

“It’s going to be a big ask shipping him up there, but I like the idea of stretching him out to the one-turn mile,” the two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said. “I’m hopeful he can handle that and we’ll see how it goes.”


Cox also will saddle Bergen (9-2), who owns a victory at the Big A, having scored a 5 1/4-length win in the Jimmy Winkfield on Jan. 27 after starting his career in Kentucky.

“I did like the idea after Churchill of bringing him up to New York and having the options of seven-eighths, one-turn mile races for him,” Cox said. “We ended up running three-quarters [in the Jimmy Winkfield] and it worked out, but I do think this is a horse that will be better going a one-turn mile.”

Cox also will saddle Calumet’s Air Cav (30-1), third in the Jimmy Winkfield, and  Lightline (8-1), who was third in the Withers (G3) on Feb. 2.

El Grande O

El Grande O (8-1), runner-up in the Withers, has been no worse than third in nine of 10 starts, having finished sixth behind Timberlake in last year’s Champagne (G1). He’ll be looking for his first open company victory after state-bred stakes scores as a 2-year-old in the 7-furlong Bertram F. Bongard in September and the 1-mile Sleepy Hollow in October.

Coming in from Pennsylvania is Maximus Meridius (20-1), making his first 3-year-old and stakes debut following a 3 ½-length optional claiming win on Dec. 26 at Parx, and coming from further afield is Slider (8-1) most recently third to the Bob Baffert-trained Muth in the San Vicente (G2) on Jan. 6 at Santa Anita behind Muth.

“It was his first run off a little freshening after the Breeders’ Cup and I thought it was a good first effort,” trainer John Sadler said of Slider. “It’s a long year, so it’s a good ‘first-start-back’ race. He got away a little slow and had to work a little hard. Hopefully, we get a good break in New York.”

Post time for the Gotham is 5:36 p.m. ET.

The picks: 1 Just a Touch 2 Eliminate 3 Slider

The field for the $300,000 Gotham (G3), from the rail out, with jockey, trainer, odds:

1 Khanate (Jose Gomez, Todd Pletcher), 30-1

2 Maximus Meridius (Mychel Sanchez, Butch Reid, Jr.), 20-1

3 Deterministic (Joel Rosario, Christophe Clement), 9-2

4 Facenda (Abel Cedillo, Doug O’Neill), 50-1

5 Deposition (Dextor Haddock, Uriah St. Lewis), 50-1

6 Air Cav (Eric Cancel, Brad Cox), 30-1

7 El Grande O (Kendrick Carmouche, Linda Rice), 8-1

8 Bergen (Manny Franco, Brad Cox), 9-2

9 Eliminate (Dylan Davis, Todd Pletcher), 15-1

10 Just a Touch (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox), 5-2

11 Lightline (Ramon Vazquez, Brad Cox), 8-1

12 Slider (Jose Lezcano, John Sadler), 8-1

13 Capital Idea (Trevor McCarthy, Christophe Clement), 12-1

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