Gotham a good fit for Kanthaka

OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Kanthaka, impressive winner of the Grade 2 San Vicente on Feb. 10 at Santa Anita, is expected to make his next start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham Stakes on March 10 at Aqueduct, Terry Finley, president of owner West Point Thoroughbreds, said Monday.

Finley said the Gotham is attractive for two reasons. First, as a one-turn mile race it keeps Kanthaka on a gradual stretch-out in distance coming off two seven-furlong races. Second, Kanthaka will avoid the likes of Bolt d'Oro, McKinzie, and Solomini, more-seasoned stakes horses being considered for the San Felipe at Santa Anita on the same day. Kanthaka is trained by the Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer.

"We're not too keen right off the bat to run against the big shots first time going two turns," Finley said Monday. "That was the first thing that came up in our minds. I think we're a legitimate horse. I know Jerry's thought that for quite a while, so this is not unexpected. He's an exciting colt for us."

On Monday, Kanthaka worked a half-mile in 50.80 seconds at Santa Anita.

"It went real well," said Hollendorfer, who noted that the timing of the Gotham also played a role in the decision to run here.

Kanthaka, a son of Jimmy Creed, finished fifth in his debut last Nov. 11 at Del Mar before winning a seven-furlong maiden race by a neck Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. He showed a strong turn of foot to rally from seven lengths back to win the San Vicente, earning a 99 Beyer Speed Figure.

The San Vicente did not offer qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby. The Gotham offers 85, including 50 to the winner.

The one potential issue with Kanthaka's participation in the Gotham is the fact there is a barn at Belmont Park under quarantine due to a confirmed case of equine herpes myeloencephalopathy. While the Gotham is at Aqueduct, each jurisdiction makes its own determination on whether it will allow horses that ship to a New York track to return to their home track. If all goes well, the quarantine at Belmont would be lifted March 9, the day before the Gotham.

Nominations for the Gotham close Saturday. Others who are being considered for the race include Firenze Fire and Dial Operator, both trained by Jason Servis, and Cove Blue and Promises Fulfilled, both trained by Dale Romans.