SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Shadwell Stable’s homebred Haikal came flying from the clouds late to rain all over Instagrand‘s welcome-back parade and win Saturday’s Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct.
Breaking from post 5 under Rajiv Maragh at 4/1 odds, Haikal found himself far back early while Much Better blazed through opening fractions of :22.36, :44.42, and 1:09.23. At the top of the stretch, Much Better was met both to his inside by Mind Control and to his outside by the even-money favorite Instagrand, and a three-way duel for the lead commenced. The trio wore each other down without making much ground on each other, while behind them, Haikal was running four-wide and closing quickly with every step. Sweeping past them all in the shadow of the wire, Haikal crossed with a 1-length advantage in a final time of 1:35.63 for the mile-long event over the fast main track.
“I felt like he was full of run, and I felt like we kind of had them measured,” Maragh said. “I just hoped he’d continue his run and not ease up, and he continued running, so it worked out good. It wasn’t that close at the end.”
Mind Control took second by a 1/2-length over Instagrand, with Much Better fading late to finish a nose back in fourth. Family Biz was 5 1/4 lengths further behind, while Tikhvin Flew, Knicks Go, and Not That Brady were strung out well behind to complete the order of finish.
The Gotham is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Haikal earned 50 points for the win, with Mind Control receiving 20 for second, Instagrand 10 for third, and Much Better 5 for fourth.
Haikal’s win was his third straight following the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes here going 7 furlongs on February 9 and improved his overall record to 4-3-1-0. The 3-year-old son of Daaher, a half-brother to the 2017 Vosburgh Stakes (G1) winner Takaful, has now earned $298,900 and will likely make his next start in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) here on April 6.
Haikal returned $10.80 to win, $4.90 to place, and $2.90 to show. Mind Control brought back $5.90 to place and $3.30 to show, while Instagrand paid $2.50 to show.