Overanalyze, another in trainer Todd Pletcher's seemingly endless arsenal of classic prospects, will have is sophomore unveiling in Saturday's Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham at Aqueduct. The 1 1/16-mile inner dirt test attracted a dozen entries, and if all start Overanalyze will have to overcome the widest post as champion Hansen did in winning the 2012 Gotham.
In the shadow last season of stablemate Shanghai Bobby, who was named the champion juvenile, Overanalyze still performed ably in a quartet of stakes appearances. A distant fourth to Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 2 Hopeful, the Dixie Union colt rebounded to take the Grade 2 Futurity by more than three lengths.
Kept out of the Breeders' Cup due to owner Mike Repole's unwillingness to race the colt without Lasix, Overanalyze threw in a dud in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs, finishing third by eight lengths. The bay shook off that loss by turning in one of the swiftest and gutsiest efforts by a two-year-old during the season. Challenged in the stretch by the highly-regarded Normandy Invasion in the Grade 2 Remsen over nine furlongs, Overanalyze repelled what appeared to be a winning bid from that rival to claim the victory by a nose.
The opposition is led by Vyjack, who enters the Gotham undefeated from three starts. A debut winner over the Big A's main track in November, the Rudy Rodriguez trainee later claimed the December 9 Traskwood by 5 3/4 lengths, and then fought back in the stretch to deny the returning Siete de Oros by a head in the Grade 2 Jerome in early January.
Vyjack passed on the next local classic prep, the Grade 3 Withers on February 2, where Siete de Oros tired to third after setting the pace. Falling a head short of the Withers winner's circle was Escapefromreality, a Read the Footnotes gelding who was making his open company and stakes debut. Withers also-rans Amerigo Vespucci and the maiden Champion Boy are also in the Gotham lineup.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will saddle three in the Gotham, all of whom are late-developing colts exiting maiden victories. The Darley-owned entry of Transparent and Now and Then are by superstar stallions Bernardini and Tiznow, respectively, while the Shadwell-owned Elnaawi is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
"What we were thinking about is they all have talent," McLaughlin said. "They're all colts who we think can be graded stakes winners. Elnaawi won easily last time out. It's a big step up, but we think he's a nice horse. It would be nice to get points and have a chance to run in the Derby. With the other two, we're not sure what we're going to do, but, bottom line, they're all talented colts with a future."
Others who might garner some attention are Ore Pass, a California-bred colt who took the seven-furlong Frank Whiteley Jr. at Laurel last time, and Sky Captain, a solid allowance runner-up at Gulfstream going nine furlongs in his most recent outing.
Summer Applause, whose recent comeback in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic was marred when jockey Miguel Mena lost the irons aboard the Harlan's Holiday filly, will seek to rebound against seven rivals in the Grade 2, $200,000 Top Flight Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.
Winner of the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra and a head second in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks last term, Summer Applause went to the sidelines for the remainder of the season following a fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. She returned to action in the January 26 Houston Ladies Classic, a newly-created 1 1/16-mile feature at Sam Houston, where she finished last of six, 15 lengths behind Joyful Victory, in a race most observers will view as a tossout.
Multiple allowance winner Sisterly Love, who endured her first career setback when third in the Houston Ladies Classic, is expected to show early from post 8. Others with tactical foot include is four-time stakes winner Sunny Desert, who enters on a six-race win streak.
Others of note are Twice the Lady, winner of the January 26 Affectionately; Withgreatpleasure, the Affectionately runner-up who was a last-out third in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap; and Royal Lahaina, a 6 1/2-length winner against optional claimers in her debut for trainer Rudy Rodriguez February 15.
Grade 1 veteran Comma to the Top was somewhat of a surprise entrant in the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap, a six-furlong dash that attracted a field of 10. Should he start, the California-based gelding would be coming back one week after finishing a close third in the Grade 2 San Carlos after dueling on the front end.
"I can't remember ever [running a horse in a pair of graded stakes within a week]," trainer Peter Miller said. "It's unorthodox, but he's a unique horse. The owner asked me how [the horse] was doing [after the San Carlos], and he was eating well and his energy level was good. [The owner] then asked if there was any reason for us to not go (to the Tom Fool), and I said there wasn't. He's not your average horse, and there aren't a lot of big races for sprinters."
A Californian that has already been based in New York for more than a week is the Bob Baffert-trained Smash, a Grade 2-placed five-year-old who was fifth in the Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood on December 2 following an 11-month layoff.
Others expected to attract significant play are the top two finishers from the Grade 3 Toboggan, Head Heart Hoof and Johannesburg Smile, and Florida Sunshine Millions Sprint upsetter Off the Jak.