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Edited NYRA Staff Release — Graded stakes-placed Carmel Road will seek to prove his Kentucky Derby credentials when shipping to the East Coast for the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham going a one-turn mile on March 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack. 

Carmel Road, a bay son of Champion-producing stallion Quality Road, was last seen finishing second traveling 1 1/16-miles in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity on December 17.

He graduated with a frontrunning score at second asking in August going a two-turn mile at Del Mar, building on his advantage through every point of call and strolling home an 8 3/4-length winner for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. 

Now trained by Tim Yakteen, Carmel Road will be making his sophomore debut in the Gotham which offers 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby points to the top-five finishers. He is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan. 

Carmel Road has fired bullets in his last two works, most recently going five furlongs in 59 seconds flat on Monday at Santa Anita. 

“He worked very well last week and came out of it well,” said Tom Ryan, who manages the ownership group. “Last week’s work made everyone pay attention. He cruised down there hard held and wanted to gallop out even further. He’s a horse that’s feeling great at the moment and this is the time of the year that you want your 3-year-olds to be doing well. The plans are firm at the moment that he will run in the Gotham as long as he’s in good shape.”

Bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, Carmel Road was bought for $650,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He is out of the multiple stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Inspired. 

Inspired is a half-sister to the Medaglia d’Oro mare Treasure – the dam of dual Grade 1-placed sophomore National Treasure. Coincidentally, National Treasure is owned by the same partnership as Carmel Road and could also be targeting Derby points in next Saturday’s Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita. 

“National Treasure is out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare and you can see that in him. This one is a little more compact at this time,” Ryan said. “Both are beautifully balanced and well-made colts. We have loads of confidence in them both.”

A frontrunning victor on debut in September at Del Mar, National Treasure finished second in the Grade 1 American Pharoah the following month at Santa Anita before completing the trifecta in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November at Keeneland. 

Ryan also mentioned the Gotham as a possible landing spot for graded stakes-placed Fort Warren, who recently joined the barn of Maryland-based conditioner Brittany Russell. The bay son of Curlin was a pacesetting first-out winner on October 30 at Santa Anita, defeating next-out winner Spun Intended by a half-length. He then completed the trifecta in the seven-furlong Grade 2 San Vicente on January 29 at the Southern California oval. 

Ryan said Fort Warren’s Gotham status will depend on how he works this weekend with the seven-furlong Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore on April 8 at the Big A also under consideration.

“He needs to tout himself and tell us that he’s ready,” Ryan said. “If he is, we’ll take a look. If not, we’ll look at the Bay Shore.” 

Fort Warren was bought for $550,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is out of the graded-stakes placed Bernardini mare La Appassionata – a full-sister to graded stakes winner Wilburn. 


Recruiter looks to remain undefeated in G3 Gotham

Trainer Cathal Lynch and Nick Sanna Stables’ undefeated Recruiter will test deeper waters in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile test for sophomores that awards 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers, on March 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack. 

Recruiter, a dark bay son of 2018 Grade 1 Carter Handicap-winner Army Mule, will make both his graded stakes debut and first start beyond sprint distances on the heels of an off-the-pace victory in the seven-furlong Parx Juvenile on January 3 at Parx Racing. 

Ridden by Mychel Sanchez, Recruiter stalked one length from the pace in fourth through the first quarter-mile before challenging pacesetter Winning Time at the half-mile call and inching clear at the top of the stretch to come home a 2 3/4-length winner in a final time of 1:26.75. 

“Mychel kept him just off the pace and he finished up well for us,” said Lynch, who trained El Areeb to a third-place finish in the 2017 Gotham following scores in the Grade 3 Jerome and Grade 3 Withers at the Big A. “If you can ship them to Parx, I think you can ship anywhere because that track can be pretty tricky.” 

Recruiter is undefeated in four starts, stretching out in each outing after a debut victory sprinting five furlongs in August at Monmouth Park. He followed with a wire-to-wire score when facing winners for the first time in a 5 1/2-furlong October optional claimer at Laurel Park before earning his first stakes triumph in the six-furlong James F. Lewis, III in November over the same oval. 

Lynch said Recruiter has responded well to longer breezes at Fair Hill, where he regularly posts five and seven-furlong works over the dirt. He most recently breezed five-eighths in 1:01.20 on Thursday. 

“He worked good here Thursday and that is probably his last work before he runs,” said Lynch. “We may pop him out of the gate on Tuesday. I have worked him seven-eighths and a mile in between races, and I don’t think distance is going to be a problem.”

Recruiter first impressed Lynch at last year’s OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, but was scratched and re-entered in the company’s June sale.

There, he breezed an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds flat and was bought by Lynch for $125,000 from the consignment of Wavertree Stables. 

“He fell into our price range, so we took a shot,” said Lynch. “He’s a beautiful-bodied horse, well-balanced, and has a nice walk. He worked well and we got a little value for our money. We’ve had a few Army Mules and they all can run. We’re very happy with them and a lot of my guys are looking to breed their mares back to Army Mule because of him [Recruiter].”

Bred in Florida by Beth Bayer, Recruiter is out of the winning Medaglia d’Oro mare Lady Halite. His second dam, the stakes-placed Ada’s Dream, is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Buffalo Man. Recruiter has amassed $170,100 in earnings through his perfect 4-for-4 record.


Lugan Knight remains on schedule for G3 Gotham

Trainer Michael McCarthy reported that BG Stables’ Kentucky homebred Lugan Knight is training forwardly towards his anticipated engagement in next Saturday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile for sophomores at Aqueduct Racetrack. 

The Gotham is the penultimate local prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and awards the top-five finishers points based off a 50-20-15-10-5 scale.

Lugan Knight, a bay son of Goldencents, will return to the site of his last conquest, where he displayed grit and determination to capture the $150,000 Jerome on January 7 going the Gotham distance. 

He broke sharply under Dylan Davis and set a good early tempo with Arctic Arrogance to his outside in second down the backstretch. The pair continued to battle down the stretch with Arctic Arrogance inching closer to even terms. But Lugan Knight had enough in the tank to ward off the challenge, and captured his stakes debut by a half-length while registering a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure. 

Lugan Knight’s Jerome victory earned him 10 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, where he is currently 17th. 

Lugan Knight has been training with McCarthy’s division at Churchill Downs Trackside Training Center, recording a five-furlong bullet on in 59.80 Sunday. 

“His last work was a pretty serious work. It was kind of what we were looking for,” McCarthy said. “He’ll have another maintenance work this coming weekend and he’ll be ready to make his way to Aqueduct.” 

Lugan Knight was a half-length winner at second asking in October going 6 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland before finishing third to Victory Formation – winner of the next-out Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park – in a six-furlong allowance optional claimer in November at Churchill Downs. 

Despite already etching his name on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Lugan Knight is not a sure aspirant for the Run for the Roses. 

“We’re taking it one race at a time, we’ll see what he does in the Gotham. We’re concentrated on that right now,” McCarthy said. 

Lugan Knight is the first progeny out of the Speightstown mare Sly Roxy, whose dam is multiple Canadian Champion Roxy Gap, a multiple graded-stakes winner

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