We have three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races coming up on Saturday and it will be tough to find prices as we have a couple of solid favorites and a five-horse field.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Classic Empire makes his three-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park in the $350,000 Holy Bull (G3) and was installed as the 3-5 morning line favorite.
At Aqueduct, a field of 10 line up in the $250,000 Withers (G3) led by Jerome (G3) winner El Areeb, who is the 6-5 morning line favorite.
And at Santa Anita a field of five will go to the gate in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3). It looks like an evenly matched group with the Jerry Hollendorfer trained Sheer Flattery the 2-1 morning line favorite.
There is no doubt Classic Empire is the headliner of the weekend. The colt is down to 5-2 in early Kentucky Derby betting at US Racing.
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The colt has won four of his five career starts and was named the Eclipse Award winner for top juvenile of 2016. His lone loss came in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga where he wheeled and dumped jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Each of Saturday’s three Derby preps offer up 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into the Run for the Roses as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points races.
Let’s head out to the Big A for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 8 The Withers G3 Post time 4:20 ET
2 Apartfromthecrowd 5-1
4 El Areeb 6-5
10 J Boys Echo 4-1
5 Bonus Points 12-1
Apartfromthecrowd faces winners for the first time here for the Chad Brown barn after breaking his maiden in a sharp effort in his third career start. Only the chalk in here earned a higher last out speed fig and this colt has showed improvement with each outing. Here was fourth on turf at the Spa last September and then third here on the main track going a mile. He took to the inner and two turns last out. He is out of a Capote mare that has dropped five other winners. Another move forward could put him in the mix here and he could have more upside than the favorite.
El Areeb has not been tested in his last three starts, last out drawing away in the mud to win the Jerome (G3) by 11 ¼ lengths in his first trip on the inner track. It was his first go around two turns after sprinting in his first four starts including winning the JF Lewis at Laurel Park two back in his first go against winners. The $340,000 Ocala purchase looks tough but is going to be a short price and he now is going to have to replicate his two-turn effort over a fast surface.
J Boys Echo ran in spots in a fourth-place finish in the Delta Jackpot (G3) last out. He pressed the early pace, dropped back to seventh and then was picking it up late when rallying for fourth, beaten 10 ¼ lengths. He broke his maiden two back at Keeneland over what was not one of the stronger maiden races at the fall meeting. The colt was a $485,000 Keeneland purchase out of the stakes winner Letgomyecho ($136,200).
WIN: Apartfromthecrowd to win at 7-2 or better.
EXACTA: 2,4 / 2,4,5,10
TRIFECTA: 2,4 / 2,4,5,10 / 1,2,4,5,10
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