Homeracing

How to Best Attack the Withers Day card at Aqueduct

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

February 2nd, 2018

The Grade 3 Withers Stakes headlines a Saturday afternoon card in New York City where sunny skies are in the forecast.

The quality of racing outside of the featured $250,000 event on Saturday at Aqueduct is moderate, but there are still plenty of opportunities to make money, especially over the latter part of the card.

I am going to base my Saturday success in New York on my opinion in the Withers. Hopefully I can nail the featured event and make it a profitable day at the “The Big A.”

#1 Firenze Fire brings the strongest resume into the field, but I have concerns that this son of Poseidon’s Warrior has distance limitations. He overcame a slow pace last time out in the Jerome Stakes when he ran down Seven Trumpets in the mud to win the one-turn mile event by a half-length in the end.

The winner of 4 of 6 starts, including a victory last October in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes is likely to take his fair share of support at the windows, but I will toss him in Saturday’s Withers as he makes his second voyage around two turns.

I prefer the chances of #3 Avery Island. The Godolphin Racing Stable colt returns off a two-month freshening for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Before the break, the son of Street Sense rattled off three straight strong performances, including a runner-up effort to Catholic Boy in the Grade 2 Remsen.

Unlike Firenze Fire, I am confident that Avery Island will have little issue with the nine-furlong distance evidenced by his finish in the Remsen. The Kentucky-bred allowed the eventual winner to get the jump on him back in December, but finished full of run despite being beaten nearly five lengths in the end.  Look for veteran jockey Joe Bravo to find a prominent spot early and be tough to get by in the lane.

I will try to connect on wagers within the race, as well as a horizontal bet singling Avery Island in order to maximize my opinion.

#2 Marconi is bred to be a star and takes on winners for the initial time in the Withers Stakes. His inability to get out of the gate with the rest of the field needs to be corrected, but there is little doubt that this two million dollar son of Tapit can run all day.

I expect jockey Manuel Franco to have too much to do late to get the best of Avery Island, but I like Marconi’s chances to pick up the pieces. I will play a cold exacta with the two of them.

I will also take a shot at the late Pick 4 wager offered over the final four races of the Saturday card.

#2 Driven West dueled early, put away the other speed, but did not have enough late to do better than second back on January 14th. He should move forward in his second start of the form cycle in Saturday’s sixth. He is my top choice, but I will also include #3 Polar City and #5 Micozzi.

The second leg of the sequence is a competitive state-bred optional claimer at the tricky six and a half furlong distance. I lack a strong opinion in this group, so I will include all 8 runners and hope to catch a price in the race leading up to the feature.

The payoff leg is a low level claimer for New York bred maidens. There are several ways to go in this six-furlong dash over the main track, but I will lean mostly on a couple of class droppers and a pair of four-year-olds that are due to get their picture taken to close out the day of racing in “The Big Apple.”

Here are my suggested wagers for Withers Day at Aqueduct:

Race 6

$.50 Pick 4

2+3+5 with ALL with 4 with 1+4+8+9

Total = $48

Race 8

$20 Exacta 4-2

$50 Win 4 (if 5-2 or higher

Good luck at the windows!
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