Alpha Looks Chalky in Withers as Derby Trail Action Heats Up

Aqueduct Betting – Withers

If you are looking for an early Kentucky Derby pick, pay close attention to Saturday’s action, as there are three graded stakes for three-year-olds, and any of the trio of races could produce a leading contender for the Run for the Roses, which is now just three months away.

A field of seven is lining up at Aqueduct in the $200,000 Withers (G3), which is back after a one year hiatus.

The race serves as a prep for the $400,000 Gotham (G3) on March 3 and the $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) on April 7.

Count Fleet winner Alpha is going to be tough to beat in the Withers but is going to be the short priced favorite.

The $200,000 Robert Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita and the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs are also on the menu on Saturday as key preps for three-year-olds.

I will include my selections for each of the preps in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

Saturday’s card at Tampa Bay Downs also includes the $150,000 Endeavour (G3) and the $150,000 Florida Oaks.

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Saturday’s contest track is Tampa Bay Downs.

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The colt is the 5/2 second choice on the morning line behind the Todd Pletcher trainee Turbo Compressor, winner of the Carl G. Rose Classic Handicap at Calder on Nov. 12.

Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Aqueduct Race 9 The Withers (G3)
Post time 4:05 CT

  • Alpha 1/1
  • Hakama 5/1
  • How Do I Win 10/1
  • King Kid 4/1

Alpha bounced back nicely off a 11th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) with a smart looking win in his three year old debut in the Count Fleet over the inner track here on Jan. 7. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee tracked the early pace while three wide much of the trip and drew off late to win by 1 ¼ lengths over a racing strip that was playing to inside speed. He showed plenty of promise as a two-year-old with a good looking win in his debut, followed by a runner up finish behind Union rags in the Champagne (G1) last October. He has nine sibs that are winners, top earner stateside is Numaany ($221K). The price is not going to be much, but this guy looks like the real deal.

Hakama is coming off a gate to wire score at Laurel Park versus Alw-1 optional claimers in his first start against winners, beating four foes. The runner up in that race was Pretension, who is a pretty good New York bred who has run second in the state bred Damon Runyon in his previous start here on Dec. 4, beaten just a head. The Mike Trombetta trainee is proven on the inner track, breaking his maiden here on Dec. 10 in gate to wire fashion. The runner up in that race was Raconteur, who came back to graduate in his next outing on Jan. 6. He is going to be in the mix early, but the pace may be hot here as it looks as if Pletcher plans on sending his trainee How Do I win early.

How Do I Win prompted the early pace while under a hold and weakened to finish fourth in the Count Fleet. It was his first go around two turns after beating $50K starter allowance foes two back in gate to wire fashion going six furlongs on the inner track. After coming up short in his first three career starts, his first pair at the Spa last summer as the beaten chalk, he dropped in for a $50K tag on Oct. 19 at Belmont Park and won by 17 ½ lengths. He figures to move forward in his second start going long. He is by Corinthian out of the stakes winner Silver Crown ($272K) who did her best work sprinting. A tough call what we are going to see out of this guy, but worth tossing in the mix here if he goes off near his 10/1 morning line.

WIN: Alpha to win at 6/5 or better.
EX: 1,7 / 1,4,5,7
TRI: 1,7 / 1,4,5,7 / 1,3,4,5,7

Michael Dempsey provides his full card report for Aqueduct each racing day. Mike’s full card report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Mike’s Best Plays Report is available each weekend, with his strongest plays and selections including the top stakes races.

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