Favorites did not fare well Saturday as two new horses emerged in the Derby picture with upsets in the Gotham Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby.
Haikul took advantage of a blistering pace, coming from way off the pace to win the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct by one length over Mind Control.
Haikul was tied for last throughout the backstretch as Knicks Go and Much Better set fractions of 22.36 and 44.42. Knicks Go’s Derby stock continued to plummet as he quickly faded as Mind Control and Instgrand made their move on Much Better.
As the three raced down the homestretch, Haikul, who had been slowly moving up, was nearly 4 lengths behind them, but in the last furlong put on a furious charge to catch Mind Control shortly before the wire.
Instagrand, the favorite, had to settle for a photo finish for third.
Tampa Bay Derby
In the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, Tacitus found an opening near the rail in the homestretch to overtake Outshine in stakes record time.
The gray son of Tapit stayed in the middle of the pack as front-runner Zenden fought with Well Defined through speedy fractions. Well Defined faded, but Zenden hung on to the lead as Tacitus made his move on the inside. He quickly overtook Zenden as Outshine and favorite Win Win Win closed to finish second and third, respectively.
Dream Maker and Well Defined, both Derby hopefuls, finished badly.