There are three sophomore stakes races across the United States on March 2 and 3 that offer points for the Kentucky Derby (G1) with the most notable of the trio being the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher has two high rollers in that race including Locked, who already has 19 points.

The Gotham Stakes (G3) is worth $300,000 and is at one mile at Aqueduct thus the distance is not overly significant in relation to the 10 furlong Derby. However, trainer Brad Cox has four entrants in a competitive field: Bergen, Just a Touch, Air Cav and Lightline.

At Santa Anita, the big Santa Anita Handicap card that includes the San Felipe Stakes (G2) for 50 Derby points, jas been moved from Saturday to Sunday due to inclement weather. The San Felipe has just 5 entrants, three trained by Bob Baffert, who is not allowed to race horses in the Derby. The Baffert trainee Nysos, unbeaten in 3 races, is 1 to 5 in the morning line odds.

The Gotham, which awards 50-25-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers, is slated as the final race on the lucrative 10-race program that features an additional three stakes events in the Grade 3, $175,000 Tom Fool Handicap in Race 9; Listed $200,000 Busher, a 50-25-15-10-5 Kentucky Oaks qualifier, in Race 7; and the Listed $150,000 Stymie in Race 8. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

Leading the charge for the Cox cavalry in the 13-horse strong Gotham is Spendthrift Farm, Martin Schwartz, Gandharvi, Big Easy Racing, Rick Kanter, James Bakke, Titletown Racing Stables, Kueber Racing, Golconda Stable, Ali Goodrich and Mark Parkinson’s Bergen, who captured the local six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield last out on January 27.

The Liam’s Map gray aced his stakes debut impressively under returning rider Manny Franco [post 8], who patiently held his charge 1 1/2 lengths off the pace in fourth through the first quarter-mile as El Divino Nino showed the way. Bergen was given his cue at the three-eighths marker and responded with aplomb to steadily make up ground and assume command at the stretch call. He powered home strongly to cross the wire 5 1/4 lengths in front in a final time of 1:12.63.

Cox said he was pleased to see Bergen handle a less-than-ideal cutback in the Winkfield after finishing second in a one-mile November optional claimer at Churchill Downs.

“I was wanting to stretch out to seven-eighths, one-turn mile but just couldn’t get the right race to go,” said Cox. “I did like the idea after Churchill of bringing him up to New York and having the options of seven-eighths, one-turn mile races for him. We ended up running three-quarters and it worked out, but I do think this is a horse that will be better going a one-turn mile.”

Bergen’s November effort at Churchill, his only previous outing at one mile, saw him bumped at the start before rallying from 5 3/4 lengths off the pace to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind undefeated dual stakes-winner Who Dey. Bergen graduated on debut in October at Keeneland with a rallying three-quarter-length score when sprinting six furlongs.

Cox added he was satisfied with Bergen’s latest workout, a half-mile breeze in 49.65 seconds Friday over the Belmont Park dirt training track.

“He’s been solid enough in the morning and has been steady since his win in the Winkfield,” said Cox. “I’m excited about giving him a little more ground to run over.”

Qatar Racing and Marc Detampel’s Just a Touch [post 10, Florent Geroux] makes his first start against winners after a dominant graduation on debut on January 27 at Fair Grounds Race Course.

The $300,000 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase captured the six-furlong sprint in prominent fashion under Florent Geroux and briefly stalked the pace before taking a head advantage at the half-mile call and extended his lead throughout the latter stages. He crossed the wire a 4 1/4-length winner ahead of Gun Party, a well-regarded colt for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen that was purchased for $1.7 million as a yearling.

“He’s very athletic,” Cox said of Just a Touch. “He’s a good-sized colt and done everything right in the mornings and he showed up first time out. It’s going to be a big ask shipping him up there, but I like the idea of stretching him out to the one-turn mile. I’m hopeful he can handle that and we’ll see how it goes.”

Just a Touch has since worked three times at Fair Grounds, most recently covering five furlongs in 1:00.60 Saturday and the same distance in 1:00 flat eight days earlier.

“I was in Saudi, but the work was executed very well,” said Cox, who sent out Saudi Crown to a third-place effort in Saturday’s Group 1 Saudi Cup. “We’ve done plenty with him since he broke his maiden and fitness-wise wise we’ve got him as tight as we can get him. Hopefully that will be enough to show up with a big effort.”

The Justify bay is out of the graded stakes-winning Tapit mare Touching Beauty, who has also produced stakes-placed Corps of Discovery. Touching Beauty is a full-sister to graded stakes-placed Tritap and stakes-winner Noisy Feet.

Calumet Farm’s Air Cav [post 6, Eric Cancel] will look to rebound from a third-place effort behind Bergen in the Jimmy Winkfield last out. The Mitole chestnut was defeated 12 lengths after giving chase through the early stages and improving to third position at the stretch call, where he stayed through the lane to land his first stakes placing.

Air Cav worked a half-mile in 48.85 seconds Friday at Belmont in company with Lightline [post 11, Ramon Vazquez], who rounds out the contingent for Cox.

The City of Light bay, owned by Albaugh Family Stables, earned graded black type last out with a third-place effort in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Withers on February 3 over a muddy and sealed Big A main track. He was jostled at the start and tracked close to the pace in fifth through the first half-mile in 49.49 seconds before dropping back leaving the backstretch and making a four-wide bid for the topflight in the turn. He showed a good turn of foot under Franco but could not reel in the top pair of Uncle Heavy and El Grande O, settling for show honors as he collared Deposition by a half-length.

Cox said he is hopeful there will be a swifter pace in front of Lightline on Saturday with the cutback in distance.

“I would like to think it gives him an opportunity if the race is to collapse to pick up pieces or run them all down,” said Cox. “He doesn’t have a tremendous amount of early speed, but he’s steady enough and he might get the right set up.”

Lightline vies for his first win since a 13 3/4-length romp on debut in a one-mile maiden in September at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The $600,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Maria’s Mon mare Upperline, who also produced graded stakes-placed Reigning Spirit.

Current Kentucky Derby (G1) Points

1. Timberlake 66 Brad Cox $1,053,750
2. Sierra Leone 55 Chad Brown $290,000
3. Track Phantom 55 Steve Asmussen $260,000
4. Fierceness 36 Todd Pletcher $1,069,500
5. Common Defense 27 Kenny McPeek $233,450
6. Stronghold 25 Phil D’Amato $292,800
7. Catching Freedom 25 Brad Cox $202,000
8. Mystik Dan 21 Kenny McPeek $418,800
9. Hades 20 Joe Orseno $161,900
10. Uncle Heavy 20 Butch Reid $137,500
11. No More Time 20 Jose D’Angelo $124,380
12. Locked 19 Todd Pletcher $538,050
13. Liberal Arts 19 Robert Medina $220,325
14. Northern Flame 18 Kenny McPeek $138,000
15. West Saratoga 17 Larry Demeritte $227,640
16. Just Steel 15 D. Wayne Lukas $365,795
17. Honor Marie 15 Whit Beckman $248,455
18. El Grande O 15 Linda Rice $115,000
19. Nash 13 Brad Cox $50,000
20. Agate Road 10 Todd Pletcher $204,750
21. Otto the Conqueror 10 Steve Asmussen $200,000
22. Dornoch 10 Danny Gargan $177,500
23. Alotaluck 10 Ty Garrett $105,360
–. Woodcourt 10 Cipriano Contreras $68,875
24. Domestic Product 10 Chad Brown $50,500
25. Resilience 10 Bill Mott $16,000