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Mar 06, 2015

El Kabeir tops field for Gotham Stakes


Ozone Park, NY ( - Jerome Stakes winner El Kabeir heads a field of 10 3-year-olds for Saturday's $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

The 1 1/16-mile stakes is the final local prep event for the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 4. The Gotham is worth 50 points to the winning horse under the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" qualifying system.

Trained by John Terranova for Zayat Stables, 8-5 morning line favorite El Kabeir will start from post 4 with C. C. Lopez again in the saddle. This will be the third straight race Lopez will be aboard the gray colt.

El Kabeir won the Jerome at Aqueduct on Jan. 3 as the 7-5 top pick by almost five lengths as he began his 2015 season. Five weeks later the colt, sent off as the 1-2 favorite, was second to Far From Over in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

"We've been lucky in the fact we've gotten several races under him so far,' Terranova said. "He's got a great foundation, so fitness is not a problem or an issue. We've had a couple of light days in between but we never want to force anything. We just wait for the track and him to tell us. Hopefully we'll be good the next few weeks. So far this week, it looks like he's coming into this race really well."

El Kabeir broke his maiden by 10 3/4 lengths in his second start on Aug. 30 at Saratoga. He was fourth in the slop in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 4 and second in Aqueduct's Nashua Stakes on Nov. 2 in the mud. The colt went wire to wire to win the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29. El Kabeir has earned $438,892 from his seven career starts.

Classy Class, the 7-2 second pick, is representing the barn of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in the Gotham following the move of Ocean Knight to Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby. Owned by Cheyenne Stables, Classy Class has drawn post 3 with Junior Alvarado aboard the colt for the first time.

Classy Class was also 7-2 for the Withers when he finished third behind Far From Over in his 2015 opener. The colt won his debut start last October at Belmont Park and was fourth in the Remsen at Aqueduct last Nov. 29.

"We thought Classy Class ran very well in the Withers," said McLaughlin. "El Kabeir challenged him a lot earlier than we were expecting, and he ran on well. (In the Gotham), we'd prefer to see him come from off the pace; he doesn't need to be on the lead."

Classy Class has banked $90,000 in his three starts.

Here is the field for the Gotham in post position order: Combat Diver, Sheldon Russell, 12-1; Dontbetwithbruno, Manuel Franco, 5-1; Classy Class, Junior Alvarado, 7-2; El Kabeir, C. C. Lopez, 8-5; Lieutenant Colonel, Kendrick Carmouche, 5-1; Tiz Shea D, Taylor Rice, 15-1; Toasting Master, Angel Arroyo, 20-1; Uninfluenced, Fernando Jara, 5-1; Tencendur, Cornelio Velasquez, 8-1 and Blame Jim, Jose Ortiz, 5-1. Dontbetwithbruno, Uninfluenced and Blame Jim are coupled.

The Gotham Stakes has an approximate post time of 4:50 p.m. ET.

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