NEW YORK (WHAS11)--Two native New York thoroughbreds seem joined at the hip and they refuse to be knocked off the trail to the Kentucky Derby. Samraat and Uncle Sigh staged another stirring stretch duel in the Gotham Stakes and Samraat got the edge again.
But on Gotham day, the duo became a trio. In Trouble skimmed the rail for third place in a finish that saw less than a head between the first three at the wire. The final time for the mile and 1/16th was 1:44.44.
In the end Samraat remained undefeated. The son of Noble Causeway is now five for five with the last three wins on Aqueduct's inner track. With one race left before a trip to Kentucky, it remains to be seen if Samraat can transfer his form to another surface.
In the meantime, Samraat made a strong impression with his second Grade 3 victory. He's tough, determined and refuses to be passed. Many believe he's the kind of horse that could win the Kentucky Derby. And Uncle Sigh may be right there beside him.
With the Gotham win, Samraat gets 50 Derby points, and moves into first place with a total of 60. Uncle Sigh picks up 20 and now has 24.
The two horses will now part company, at least for the near future. Trainer Richard Violette will take Samraat back to Palm Meadows in Florida although he could return for the Wood Memorial.
Meanwhile, Gary Contessa will keep Uncle Sigh in New York and point for the Wood if the horse stays sound. Third place In Trouble also seems likely for the Wood.
Elsewhere on the Derby trail, the biggest news was about a horse that didn't run. Havana, the Champagne Stakes winner last year, was scratched from the Swale Stakes with a quarter crack. Havana's prognosis for foot repair is in doubt.
In the 7 furlong race at Gulfstream, 2-5 favorite No Nay Never got caught up in a speed duel and was passed in the stretch by long shot Spot. Spot was making his first start for trainer Nick Zito and was sent off at 9-1.
No Nay Never came into the race undefeated including a Group One win in Europe. But he had never raced beyond 7 furlongs and was caught up in a speed duel with Can't Stop the Kid. They hit the half mile post in 44:49.
The Swale carried no points for the Kentucky Derby and Zito says he's uncertain about the next race.
In another prep race without Derby points, Solitary Ranger ran away from the field and won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway by almost 5 lengths.
Trainer Wayne Catalano finished one-two in the race, with Poker Player coming from last to make a stretch run at his stablemate.
The Battaglia is the second prep in the Turfway series that leads to the Spiral Stakes. Jockey Florent Geroux said Solitary Ranger seems more like a sprinter but he handled the mile and 1/16th in 1:47.21.
Solitary Ranger is from the first crop of new sire U. S. Ranger. His dam, Galileo's Star is by Lil E. Tee. The 2.20 Dosage Index indicates that he should handle more distance.
That's the Derby wrap for March 1. Join Gary on whas11.com late Monday for the newest Top Twenty as we try to make sense of the contenders for Derby 140.