The “other” Kentucky Derby prep — the Grade 3 Gotham from Aqueduct Park — highlights this week’s New York Racing Association Cross Country Pick 5. This week’s Cross Country Pick 5 encompasses races from Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn Park.
The Gotham, which offers 50-20-10-5 Derby qualifying points to its top four finishers, is the Derby prep afterthought this weekend. That’s courtesy of two strong Grade 2 Derby preps running on both coasts: the San Felipe at Santa Anita Park and the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream.
But the Gotham is the fourth leg in this week’s Cross Country Pick 5. It stars Bob Baffert’s Rockefeller. The Medaglia d’Oro son returns to Aqueduct for the first time since winning the Grade 3 Nashua last fall. He comes in off a runner-up finish to stablemate Newgrange in January’s Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.
Awaiting him are a pair of Todd Pletcher contestants: Golden Code and Dean’s List. Golden Code arrives off a 10 3/4-length destruction of a New York-bred maiden special weight Feb. 5. Undefeated Dean’s List brings two six-furlong victories into the Aqueduct starting gate, including a neck score in January in an allowance optional claimer. One of Dean’s List’s victims in that race, In Due Time, won his next race and is entered in the Fountain of Youth.
Tampa Bay Downs opens the sequence
While the Gotham is the marquee race in this week’s Cross Country Pick 5 sequence, the wager has to start somewhere. And this week, that’s Tampa Bay Downs for an older maiden race sending its 10 runners around a one-turn mile.
The one to watch is Chad Brown’s first-time starter Supply Chain. He’s put in eight workouts since Jan. 7, most recently a 49.50-second four-furlong work that was 60th of 122 at that distance that day. He’ll face another debut-maker in Highgate Road. His Feb. 26, four-furlong work took 48.40 seconds: eighth of 16 at that distance that day.
From there, the sequence moves to Oaklawn for an Arkansas-bred sprint for mares and fillies 3-and-up: the Downthedustyroad Breeders’. This puts the spotlight on Connie K, who arrives off a two-race winning streak punctuated by a 7 3/4-length demolition of an Oaklawn allowance field.
Connie K may be forced to share the spotlight with Richness, who brings her own two-race win streak into the proceedings. Then, there’s Hillary G, who won Oaklawn’s Rainbow Miss last April.
Cross Country Pick 5 includes Kentucky Oaks prep
The Cross Country Pick 5 returns to Aqueduct for the third leg: the Busher Invitational. That’s a Kentucky Oaks prep, offering 50-20-10-5 Oaks qualifying points to its top four finishers. A one-turn mile, this edition of the Busher features a rematch between Venti Valentine and Magic Circle, who went 2-3 in the Grade 2 Demoiselle in December.
Waiting for those two are stakes winners Shotgun Hottie and Sterling Silver, who stretch out to a mile after winning their stakes events at sprint distances.
After the Gotham, the sequence returns to Oaklawn in the ungraded Nodouble Breeders’, a stakes race for Arkansas-bred colts and geldings 3-and-up. In-form trainer John Ortiz brings in Gar Hole looking for his fourth victory in five career races and his fourth consecutive score.
Waiting for him are the last two winners of this event: Tempt Fate (2021) and K.J.’s Nobility (2020). Tempt Fate won four in a row last year, including this race and the ungraded Arkansas Breeders’ Championship his next start. He owns a second in his lone race this year. K.J.’s Nobility hasn’t won since taking this race nearly two years ago — an 0-for-8 skein.
NYRA Cross Country Pick 5
|Leg 1||Tampa Bay Downs||Maiden Special Weight||3:47 p.m.|
|Leg 2||Oaklawn Park||Downthedustyroad Breeders’||4:33 p.m.|
|Leg 3||Aqueduct||Busher Invitational||4:57 p.m.|
|Leg 4||Aqueduct||Gotham (G3)||5:27 p.m.|
|Leg 5||Oaklawn Park||Nodouble Breeders’||6:10 p.m.|
The Cross Country Pick 5 comes with a minimum 50 cent bet. It features a mandatory payout of the net pool and a 15% takeout. The wager is available on ADW platforms and simulcast centers.
For free Equibase past performances on the Cross Country Pick 5 sequence click here.