July 18, 2024

Just a Touch highlights 13 in Gotham

El Grande O (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Chelsea Durand)

A smashing maiden winner in his first start at Fair Grounds, Just a Touch will look to join the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture in Saturday’s $300,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct. The one-turn mile test offers points on a 50-25-15-10-5 scale as a qualifier in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and 13 three-year-olds are entered.

Just a Touch made his career debut at six furlongs over a sloppy track on Jan. 27, and the son of Justify prompted the pace before drawing off stylishly, registering a 97 Brisnet Speed rating for the 4 1/4-length win. Florent Geroux retains the mount, and Just a Touch is one of four runners for Brad Cox, who also sends out Bergen and Air Cav, first and third in the six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield on Jan. 27, and Withers (G3) third Lightline.

El Grande O coughed up a clear lead in deep stretch when stretching to 1 1/8 miles in the Withers, finishing a nose second, and the New York-bred son of Take Charge Indy will appreciate the cut back in distance. Kendrick Carmouche will be up on the multiple restricted stakes winner for Linda Rice. Santa Anita turf stakes victor Slider, third in the Jan. 6 San Vicente (G2), has shipped to New York for John Sadler. Jose Lezcano picks up the assignment.

Maximus Meridius invades off a romping Parx allowance triumph for Butch Reid, who shipped in to win the Withers last month with Pennsylvania-bred stakes winner Uncle Heavy. A winner in two of three starts, Maximus Meridius will stretch out in distance and likely show speed with regular rider Mychel Sanchez.

Christophe Clement has a pair of last-out maiden winners, Capital Idea and Deterministic, and Todd Pletcher will send out Eliminate, a son of Curlin who graduated the fourth time out when cutting back to a sprint at Aqueduct Feb. 10.