Who Wins The Withers ?

Mother Nature is undefeated in ALL her starts and the streak continued last week as single-digit temperatures and high-winds KO’d last Saturday’s Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Park.

The rescheduled $250,000, 1 1/8-mile Derby prep is set to go on Saturday (2/11) at the Big A and the skies look clear for takeoff.

A field of seven (up from six last week) will break from the starting gate Saturday, chasing qualifying points distributed 20-8-6-4-2 to the top five in descending order. Here’s a look at that field:

1. ARTIC ARROGANCE [ML 8-5] Jockey: Jose Lezcano. Trainer: Linda Rice. He’s been remarkably consistent, finishing no worse than 2nd in his five career starts. He was a game runner-up in the Jerome Stakes after missing a workout and should be in better shape this race, which comes at the same 1 1/8-mile trip as last year’s Grade 2 Remsen Stakes when he ran 2nd in a stronger field. Might be tough to beat here.

2. PROVE RIGHT [ML 30-1] Jockey: Jose Gomez. Trainer: James Chapman. Tired badly on a synthetic surface last time out in a Turfway Park Stakes, losing by 16 1/4 lengths. He’s better on dirt, but did finish 32 lengths behind in the Remsen. A sloppy track might explain that poor performance, but he’s yet to Win at a distance beyond 5 1/2 lengths, seems at a disadvantaged here.

3. JUNGFRAU [ML 4-1] Jockey: Dylan Davis. Trainer: Bill Mott. Wasn’t scheduled to run here last week. The extra week convinced Mott to send him north from Florida, where he posted a Maiden Win at Gulfstream Park. It wasn’t a conventional Victory, (lost by a nose) he was declared the Winner through a disqualification, but he showed enough ability at a two-turn distance to be a factor here. Plus, the Mott barn has been on a bit of a tear as of late.

4. HIT SHOW [ML 9-5] Jockey: Manny Franco. Trainer: Brad Cox. Was scratched from the January 28th Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, which in hindsight was a wise move as ARABIAN KNIGHT rolled to a lopsided Victory in that race. This seems an easier spot and a better class test as he makes his Stakes debut off a solid Win in December at Oaklawn which makes him a major threat in this field – particularly if he moves forward in this start.

5. GENERAL BANKER [ML 8-1] Jockey: Eric Cancel. Trainer: Jimmy Ferraro. Has had a full dance-card, running for the third time since mid-December. He’s realized some success in the last two tries, Winning a $500,000 New York Stallion Series Stakes and most recently finishing 3rd in the Jerome Stakes at a mile. He gets Cancel back in the irons, which is a plus, but in the Jerome this New York-bred finished seven lengths behind ARTIC ARROGANCE, who will be one of the favorites here.

6. NINETYPRCENTMADDIE [ML 8-1]  Jockey: Abner Adorno. Trainer: Butch Reid. The Pennsylvania-bred steps up into Graded Stakes company for the first time after finishing 2nd against open company in the Parx Juvenile Stakes on a sloppy track. He has some speed, but he’s never raced beyond seven furlongs and may find the two-turn nine-furlong distance a bit too much in the stretch.

7. ANDIAMO A FIRENZE [ML 12-1] Jockey: Frankie Pennington. Trainer: Kelly Breen. The half-brother to FIRENZE FIRE (2.7 million career earnings) showed great promise early in his career when he was 3rd in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes and then romped in the Funny Cide Stakes for New York-breds. But then he struggled in two races at a mile, finishing 13 lengths behind the Winner in the Jerome. Seems this distance might be more of a challenge for him.

The Withers is listed as race nine on a card of ten with a scheduled Post Time of 4:30.

Best of luck with all of your plays on Saturday.


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