Sent off as the 5-2 favorite, Awesome Act had been the 7-2 morning-line favorite as well in the 10-horse field. The chestnut colt was making his first start since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last November.
Trained by Jeremy Noseda, the three-year-old was racing just off the pace that was being set by Wow Wow Wow. Running in second up the backstretch was Whirlaway Stakes winner Peppi Knows with Three Day Rush racing in third.
The field began to bunch up around the final turn and there were six horses across the track coming into the stretch. Awesome Act was on the outside coming off the turn and quickly took the lead at the top of the stretch.
Awesome Act was able to maintain his lead down the stretch even as Yawanna Twist, the 7-2 second choice, made a late run. Awesome Act posted a 1 1/4- length win over Yawanna Twist with Nacho Friend finishing third and Turf Melody getting fourth.
"It's the first hurdle out of the way, so the dream lives on," said Noseda. "We'll be back for the Wood Memorial."
Rounding out the order of finish was Shrimp Dancer, Peppi Knows, I've Got the Fever, Wow Wow Wow, Three Day Rush and Afleet Again.
The time for the Gotham was 1:43.85 on a fast track.
"He did everything perfect," said Leparoux. "He was beyond good on the dirt, it didn't matter to him at all. He just did everything on his own, he put me in the right spots, and then he just finished very nice."
Awesome Act is co-owned by Mrs. Susan Roy and Vinery Stables. The Gotham win was worth $150,000 as the colt recorded his first stakes victory. He has won two of seven career starts for $221,691.
Saturday's race was the first on dirt for Awesome Act. He had started five times on turf and once on an artificial surface. He lost the Juvenile Turf to Pounced by 1 1/4-lengths following a late rally.
Awesome Act returned $7.70, $5.10 and $3.80. Yawanna Twist paid $5.90 and $4.70, and Nacho Friend paid $6.80 to show.