Remsen (G3) winner Shotski heads a field of eight lining up in Saturday’s $250,000 Withers (G3) with 17 Road to the Kentucky Derby points up for grabs.
The Withers is one of three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races on Saturday afternoon. A field of seven go in the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park and a compact field of six will battle in the $100,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita.
Each of the three races are worth 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into the Kentucky Derby which will be contested at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 2.
The Jeremiah O’Dwyer trained Shotski is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Withers. Based at Laurel Park, the colt shipped to Churchill Downs to finish fourth in the Street Sense before making the trip to Aqueduct to win the Remsen in his last outing.
“We know he likes the track, and we know he can get the distance,” said O’Dwyer. “We’re very happy with his training and he’s had a good series of works. Physically, he looks very strong.”
The race serves as a prep for the $300,000 Gotham (G3) on March 7 and the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) on April 4.
There are two other stakes winners in the field—Monday Morning Qb (4-1) won the Heft at Laurel Park going seven furlongs and Vanzzy (8-1) won the Display at Woodbine over a synthetic surface.
Tiz the Law is the 3-5 morning line favorite for the Holy Bull. The Barclay Tagg trainee won the Champagne (G1) last October at Belmont Park and was a troubled third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in his last outing.
The colt is the co-favorite at 12-1 along with Dennis’ Moment and Tizmagician in early Kentucky Derby future betting at USRacing.
Six will go in the Robert B. Lewis led by 4-5 morning line favorite Thousand Words, the winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). Trainer Bob Baffert is seeking his eighth win in the Lewis and fifth in the last eight years.
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)
3 Max Player 9-2
5 Shotski 2-1
2 Monday Morning Qb 4-1
8 Portos 3-1
Our top pick faces winners for the first time here after graduating at Philly last out in his second career start for the Rice barn. The colt was a solid second in his debut going a mile behind Ahraq, who came back to finish sixth in the Central Park here on Dec. 6. Second out our top pick caught a sloppy track and drew off to win by 4 1/4 lengths. The runner up, fifth and sixth place finishers all came out of that race to graduate in their next starts. The colt has enough pedigree to go nine furlongs, by Grade 1 winner Honor Code out of the stakes winner Fools in Love who has dropped four other foals to race, all winners, top earner Group 2 winner Seahenge ($228,295) and also Urban Bourbon ($113,381) who was stakes placed at nine furlongs. He looks as if he still has some upside, has shown he can handle two turns and may end up a decent price with his two starts coming at Philly.
The likely favorite took the field gate to wire to win the Remsen (G2) last out here at nine furlongs. He did catch a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. The O’Dwyer trainee just gets better with each outing and with more distance. He graduated at Laurel Park in his second career start going six furlongs and then as fourth beaten 2 1/4 lengths in the Street Sense at Churchill Downs going a one turn mile. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers but will not have things as easy up front as he did last out. He is bred to handle the distance, by Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame out of a Bluegrass Cat mare that has dropped two other winners. He fits well in this spot, but his price may end up on the short side.
Monday Morning Qb
The Robert Reid trainee graduated at Philly in his second career start and then shipped to Laurel Park where he won the seven-furlong Heft in a sharp effort. The colt stretches out to a route of ground for the first time here and he has earned solid numbers sprinting in his last two starts. He is by Imagining out of a Not For Love mare, her first foal to race. He is in a capable barn with the Philly based Reid who is 11% winners moving runners from sprint to route.