NEW YORK (AP) -- Samraat improved to 5 for 5 with a victory Saturday in the $500,000 Gotham Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct.
The latest victory was worth 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, insuring him a spot in the Derby field assuming he remains healthy.
"I'd be lying if I said we weren't already thinking about the Kentucky Derby," said trainer Rick Violette, a Lowell native. "At this stage, we don't want to do anything that would prevent us from going to the Derby,"
This was the sternest test yet for the New York-bred colt.
Samraat, ridden by Jose Ortiz for My Meadowview Farm, ranged into contention with a sweeping move on the final turn. It was a three-way battle the rest of the way with Samraat on the outside finally prevailing by a neck over Uncle Sigh, who raced in the middle. The pacesetting In Trouble was third down on the rail, only a half-length behind the winner.
There was a steward's inquiry into the spirited stretch battle and the order of finish was not changed.
The time was 1:44.44 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast track.
Samraat paid $6.40, $3.90 and $2.40 as the 2-1 favorite. Uncle Sigh returned $4.20 and $3, and In Trouble paid $3.70 to show.
Violette said Samraat heads to Florida on Sunday to continue his Derby preparations. The colt will likely return to Aqueduct for the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 5 as his final tuneup before shipping to Kentucky.
"That would be our best option, as long as the horse cooperates and tells us he should get on a plane and come up for it," Violette said.
Financial Mogul was fourth followed by Harpoon, Master Lightning, Deceived, Extrasexyhippzster and Noble Cornerstone.