El Kabeir Looking to Stamp Ticket to Derby in Withers

El Kabeirr is the one to beat in Saturday’s Withers at Aqueduct (Photo credit: Zayat Stables)

The John Terranova trained El Kabeir is the one to beat in the $250,000 Withers (G3), one of two Derby points races on tap on Saturday afternoon.

El Kabeir is currently sitting on top of the Derby points standings with 21, and a win in the Withers would virtually assure he is among the 20 that will start in the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday of May. The colt is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the field of seven and currently at 16-1 in early Kentucky Derby betting at Bovada.

At Santa Anita, Derby points will be up for grabs in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3). Six will line up including Dortmund, winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in his last outing. The Bob Baffert trainee is currently the co-favorite in early Kentucky Derby betting at Bovada at 10-1 along with his stablemate American Pharoah.

The Derby preps will be overshadowed by the rematch of California Chrome and Shared Belief, who will line up in the $500,00 San Antonio Invitational (G1) at Santa Anita. They finished third and fourth respectively in the roughly run Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), which was won by Bayern.

The San Antonio will be part of the Jockey Club Tour on Fox, the two hour telecast getting underway at 5:30 ET. The program will also televise the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1), the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and the $200,000 San Marcos Stakes (G2) from Santa Anita Park.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park including the graded stakes action.

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


Aqueduct Race 8 The Withers (G3) Post time 4:13 ET

3 March   5-1

7 El Kabeir   8-5

1 Classy Class   2-1

2 Far From Over   5-1

March looks the most promising among the six here trying to pull off the upset over the imposing favorite El Kabeir. The Chad Brown trainee was a good second in his debut going 6 ½ furlongs and then broke his maiden on the stretch out two turns in his second career outing. The effort was flattered when the runner up Dontbetwithbruno returned to graduate in his next outing.

The $320,000 Keeneland purchase is by Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame out of an Unbridled’s Song mare that has dropped five other winners including Eightfiveinafifty ($168,514) who won the 2010 Bay Shore (G3). The colt has come back with two solid looking works and we should catch a fair price.

El Kabeir was a good-looking winner in the Jerome (G3) last out in his first start on the inner track. He leads the Derby points standings with 21 and a win here would pretty much guarantee his spot in the starting gate in Louisville.

The colt won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) two back in gate to wire fashion and showed a new dimension last out in the Jerome by sitting off the pace in the early going. He owns a solid pace profile throughout with the edge in early and mid pace numbers. He looks real tough here but his price is going to be south of his 8-5 morning line.

Classy Class pressed the early pace and weakened to finish fourth in the Remsen (G2) last out at nine furlongs in his first start against winners. He broke his maiden two back going 6 ½ furlongs in a sharp effort.

The $250,000 Ocala purchase should be tighter and has plenty of pedigree to handle two turns. He looks as if he still has a ton of upside and is in good hands with the McLaughlin barn.


WIN: March to win at 4-1 or better.

EXACTA: 3,7 / 1,2,3,7

TRIFECTA: 3,7 / 1,2,3,7 / 1,2,3,4,7


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