Pletcher Sends out Pair of Derby Hopefuls in Withers

Aqueduct Withers

A field of nine line up in Saturday’s $250,000 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct (Photo credit: © George Zilberman |

Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out a pair of contenders in Saturday’s $250,000 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct, one of two Road to the Kentucky Derby points races on tap this weekend.

The other is the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Each of the two Road to the Kentucky Derby races offer up 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into this year’s Run for the Roses.

Pletcher sends out a pair of recent maiden winners seeking his fourth win in the Withers. His last came with Far From Over in 2015.

Donegal Bay (7-2) broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park going a mile off a four-month layoff in his second career start. He was a disappointing sixth in his debut at Saratoga last August.

“I think it was the additional time, having a start under his belt as well as having some good works leading into that,” Pletcher said. “He also got a better start which a lot of horses do in their second race. He has a pretty high cruising speed. Pedigree-wise, he’s bred to go that far. It’s a big step up from a maiden race, but we’re hoping for a big run.”

Donegal Bay Maiden Win

Overtook (6-1) is a $1 million Keeneland purchase who picked up his maiden win in his third career start going a one turn mile over the Aqueduct main track with the blinkers removed.

“I think he’s learning. He’s gained some confidence with the experience and we felt like the blinkers needed to come off,” Pletcher said. “He got a nice hot pace to run at which helped. He’s an improving horse that is bred to get better with more distance and more time. We’ve seen him making progress throughout and fall and winter. This is a big step up, but hopefully he’s up for it.”

The Parx invader Capo Kane is the 3-1 morning line favorite. Trained by Harold Wyner, the colt took the field gate to wire to win the Jerome in the mud in his first trip over the main track here. He did take full advantage of a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day.

The Withers is the eighth race on the nine race card at the Big A on Saturday with a post time of 4:25 ET.

Check out BUSR for the latest Kentucky Derby betting odds.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Tampa Bay Downs.

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


Aqueduct Race 8 The Withers G3 Post time 4:25 ET

7 Donegal Bay   7-2

5 Risk Taking   5-2

6 Overtook   6-1

3 Capo Kane   3-1

Donegal Bay

This gelding is one of two in here sent out by the Pletcher barn. The $90,000 Keeneland purchase took the field gate to wire to break his maiden at Gulfstream Park going a one turn mile in his second career start and first since his debut back in August where he checked in sixth at 12-1. He was well backed last out, and the effort was flattered with the runner up Simovitch coming back to graduate in his next outing on Jan. 9 at Gulfstream Park and the third and sixth place finishers both came back to run good seconds in their next starts. This guy is bred to handle more ground. He is by Uncle Mo out of an Empire Maker mare that has dropped five other runners with four winners including stakes winner Purser who won a couple of listed stakes at Newmarket at seven furlongs. He has worked sharply at Palm Beach Downs for his stakes debut here. Pletcher has won this race three times.

Risk Taking

The Chad Brown trainee is one of three in here that has won at nine furlongs. The colt was seventh in his debut sprinting and then sixth going long on turf. Last out on the main track here he stalked the early pace and finished strongly to break his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths in a good looking effort. Three runners have come out of that race to run back with the best effort a runner up finish by Dazzle Time. The $240,000 Keeneland purchase is by Medaglia d’Oro out of a stakes placed Distorted Humor mare. He still appears to have plenty of upside.


The colt was a $1 million Keeneland purchase and picked up his diploma last out going a one turn mile over the main track here that was as slightly inside speed favoring. The speed figure came up light, as did the BRIS number. Five have come out of the race to run back with a couple of thirds the best finishes. Four of the five did run higher Beyers so perhaps this guy’s fig was shortchanged a tad. Two back he was a distant third behind Known Agenda who was third in the Remsen (G3) in his next start and the runner up Greatest Honour came back to win the Holy Bull (G3) last Saturday. This colt should only get better with more ground and maturity. He is by Curlin out of the G1 stakes winner Got Lucky ($951,340) who won the 2015 Spinster (G1) at Keeneland at today’s distance. He should move forward off his last effort and the 6-1 morning line looks fair but seems likely to be a bit shorter.


WIN: Donegal Bay to win at 3-1 or better.

EXACTA: 7 /3,5,6,9 and 5,7 / 5,6,7


NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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