The Road to the Kentucky Derby makes a stop in New York this afternoon for the mile and a sixteenth Grade 3 Gotham Stakes over an inner track forecasted to be sloppy. While we are taking that prediction into consideration here, it‘s still about the class of the horses at this level, and if you look hard enough you can find some wet track pedigree in all the major contenders to varying degrees.

The Gotham has drawn a very competitive field of 10, including undefeated New York-bred Giant Moon (7-2), an obvious contender from the rail. The major competition will likely come, from the inside, out: Roman Emperor (6-1), Texas Wildcatter (12-1) and Visionaire (3-1).

It’s hard to knock a horse who’s never been defeated. Giant Moon is 4-for-4 and never has taken a backward step on performance figures. He has tactical speed, position, is fresh, and has the meet’s leading rider, Ramon Dominguez. But there are two red flags in terms of accepting a short price. While he’s bred for wet, he’s never even trained on it, and picking up four pounds at 120, he spots the entire field weight. Not ideal when facing your toughest challenge to date.

Roman Emperor, like Texas Wildcatter, is on a good line, and figures to move forward. Thirty-five days fresh since his last, he appreciated the added ground in the Whirlaway, the same distance as today’s race. He is training very well at his Fair Hill base and regular rider Jeremy Rose will travel north on Route 95 for the mount on the son of long-winded Empire Maker. He, too, has tactical speed and can kick.

Texas Wildcatter settled for third, beaten two lengths by Roman Emperor last out after losing focus but Seth Benzel, Todd Pletcher’s New York deputy, will be adding blinkers this afternoon. He, too, never has taken a backward step and is poised for a forward move with Norberto Arroyo Jr. on the re-ride. The son of Monarchos should be able to handle any footing thrown his way.

When last seen, Visionaire was finished third in Pyro’s Risen Star Stakes and trainer Michael Matz, not wanting to walk into that meat grinder again this afternoon, ships into New York from his South Florida training center and budding star Jose Lezcano will ride him back for the third time this afternoon. This long-legged colt might have been too close to the early Risen Star pace and has been much more effective making a late run. Having drawn the extreme outside post, the early line favorite might have no choice here, which can work to his benefit.

We’ll opt for whatever value we can find with Roman Emperor to win at 9-2 or greater, and will key him first and second in trifectas with our three main contenders and the very speedy wet-track loving Saratoga Russell (4-1).

Running Totals: (187) 64-41-21. Total Dollar Return: $401.80 [win selections only]