After capturing Aqueduct's GIII Withers S. with Risk Taking (Medaglia d'Oro), Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown will continue on the road to Louisville through New York with the talented Highly Motivated (Into Mischief) in Saturday's GIII Gotham S. The one-turn mile contest awards the top-four finishers GI Kentucky Derby qualifying points via a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Highly Motivated defeated subsequent GII Remsen S. third-place finisher Known Agenda (Curlin)–a recent 11-length optional claiming winner at Gulfstream–in his Belmont maiden breaker at second asking Sept. 27, then most recently posted an ultra-impressive victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Nyquist S. with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure on Breeders' Cup Friday at Keeneland.
A trio of next out winners from the Nyquist include runner-up Quick Tempo (Tapizar), who followed up with a sharp, wire-to-wire score in the Sugar Bowl S. at Fair Grounds Dec. 19.
Javier Castellano, aboard Highly Motivated in all three of his previous starts at two, makes the trip from South Florida to ride the 8-5 morning-line favorite.
“All three of his races have been excellent, they have been outstanding efforts,” Brown said. “He certainly has kept good company. It looks to be a real solid group of 3-year-olds everywhere, and he's one of them. We rested him a bit and brought him back slowly. We're ready to get his 3-year-old campaign underway.”
Klaravich Stables and Brown will also be represented by promising Jan. 28 Aqueduct debut winner Crowded Trade (More Than Ready), who stormed home nicely to graduate by a length after breaking slowly going six furlongs.
The speedy Freedom Fighter (Violence), second choice at 5-2 on the morning line, invades from Hall of Famer Bob Baffert's Santa Anita base. A narrow, wire-to-wire debut winner at Del Mar last summer, he returned from the bench with a very game runner-up finish behind highly regarded stablemate and 'TDN Rising Star' Concert Tour (Street Sense) in the seven-furlong GII San Vicente S. Feb. 6. The dark bay fired a five-furlong warning shot for the Gotham in :59 1/5 (1/63) in Arcadia Feb. 27.
“He ran a pretty courageous race after some time off to finish second to Concert Tour, who I think is a nice horse,” Baffert said. “I wanted to keep him one turn for now. I'm not sure what his distance limitations are going to be, but I think the Gotham is a good step up going from seven-eighths to a mile. He should be ready for that.”
Wipe the Slate (Nyquist), a well-beaten sixth in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. at Santa Anita Jan. 30, should appreciate this turnback in distance. He was a good-looking maiden winner going seven furlongs two starts back at second asking in Arcadia Dec. 26. Doug O'Neill removes the blinkers for this.
Capo Kane (Street Sense), a much-the-best, front-running winner of the track-and-trip Jerome S. Jan. 1, also cuts back in trip after setting the pace and finishing third in the nine-furlong Withers.