Gotham Runners Look Ahead

Raise Cain | Sarah Andrew

Andrew and Rania Warren's Raise Cain (Violence) exited his 7 1/2-length victory in Saturday's GIII Gotham S. in fine shape, according to trainer Ben Colebrook. The colt, who earned 50 qualifying points for the GI Kentucky Derby with his win in the Gotham, could return to New York for the Apr. 8 GII Wood Memorial or run in the GI Toyota Blue Grass S. at Colebrook's home base at Keeneland that same day.

“We're based at Keeneland and if it wasn't for that, the Wood would be circled. I guess we'll just sit back and see how the nominations are,” Colebrook said. “If one is significantly easier than the other, that would change our thinking. If you don't have to ship, why do it? But the Blue Grass could come up significantly tougher. In which case, we would go to the Wood.”

Colebrook had a quick turnaround Saturday. The Gotham field left the gate at 5:01 p.m. and the trainer was back in Kentucky in time to saddle Scoobie Quando (Uncle Mo)–owned by the same connections–to a runner-up effort in the $150,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park, which went off at 9:29 p.m.

“Luckily, it worked out. Going to JFK you pass the chute, so I got the Uber driver to stop and I watched them run down the backside,” Colebrook said. “I switched on to my phone and watched the rest of the race, so I got to the airport in plenty of time, luckily. The plane was on time, so I made it to Turfway as they were walking over to saddle, so everything worked out. I didn't really consider doing that until the overnights came out and they carded that race late at Turfway. So, I figured why not try it? I always really liked Scoobie, so I wanted to be there for that race.”

Scoobie Quando, who graduated on debut in the Jan. 7 Turfway Preview S. and was making his third lifetime start in the Battaglia, was behind a wall of horses late in the turn before angling out and rallying to finish second in the 1 1/16-mile test. He earned eight points on the Derby trail and could make his next start in the Mar. 25 GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks, which is a 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifier.

“The timing isn't great, but he didn't really get to run last night. I don't think it was a tough race, so I'm leaning towards the Jeff Ruby,” Colebrook said. “If the race took a lot out of him, we would probably skip it and look for something on the dirt or the turf with him, eventually. When I had him on the main track at Keeneland, he worked really well on it. I still think the dirt is within his wheelhouse. But if not, we have synthetic and turf to fall back on. The way he ran last night, we have to at least consider the Ruby.”

Trainer Brad Cox said the Wood Memorial was the next likely start for Gotham runner-up Slip Mahoney (Arrogate). The gray colt, who was coming off a maiden-breaking score at Aqueduct Jan. 21, broke a step slow from post 10 in the 14-horse Gotham field and trailed in 13th through the first half-mile. He improved to eighth at the top of the stretch while racing eight wide in pursuit of stablemate Eyeing Clover (Lookin At Lucky) and Raise Cain, who made an inside rally from 11th and showed an impressive turn of foot down the center lane under Jose Lezcano. Slip Mahoney gained with each stride down the stretch and surged past Eyeing Clover, but could not collar Raise Cain.

“Overall, I thought for the first time facing winners, it was a positive race,” Cox said. “I never expected him to be that far back. Hopefully he gets a little better trip and a little better position in the Wood.”

Eyeing Clover, who came into his stakes debut off a dominant six-furlong optional-claiming victory at Fair Grounds Jan. 28, finished fourth in the Gotham.

“I'm not sure what we're going to do with him yet,” Cox said. “I'm not certain how far he wants to go, so we'll just regroup and come up with a game plan here in the near future.”

Imaginary Stables' Howgreatisnate (Speightster) arrived home to Fair Hill in good order after stumbling at the start of the Gotham. The bay gelding was unbeaten in four starts, including a win in the Future Stars S. at Parx in December, heading into the Gotham, but saw his streak end as the gates opened when he unseated jockey J.D. Acosta and completed the course before being collared by the outrider.

“He was fresh and a little too eager and he outbroke himself coming out of the gate. He pushed so hard, his front feet went underneath him and he just went down,” trainer Andrew Simoff said. “He came out OK. He got a little scrape on his pastern and we're keeping an eye on it, but other than that he looks good. If he's good in the next two or three days and there's no issues or inflammation, I'll look to run him right back.”

Of possible next starts for Howgreatisnate, Simoff said, “If he had run fifth or sixth yesterday, I could deal with it and say he's not what we thought. We were trying to get a line on him to see if he could compete with the bigger horses. Now that I didn't get that opportunity, it's hard to figure out what to do next. Had he run second or third, the Wood would be a no brainer.”

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