A field of six three-year-olds will line up for tomorrows Grade 3 $250,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct, which is the next race that is a part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby and awards 17 qualifying points according to a 10-4-2-1 scale. Headlining this short field are Uncle Sigh and Samraat who both punched in excellent performances last time out over the Ozone Park oval. Uncle Sigh, who looks to give trainer Gary Contessa his first win in this graded stakes event, won his last start by 14 1/2 lengths in wire-to-wire fashion despite getting bumped at the break, giving the son of Indian Charlie his first career victory. He is owned by Chip McEwen's Wounded Warrior Stables, which donates a percentage of their winnings to the Wounded Warrior Project to help wounded veterans in need, and will be ridden by jockey Pablo Morales who rode Uncle Sigh in his previous two starts. Judging by his last effort, I'd say that he's going to be one tough customer on Saturday, he obviously has taken a great liking to the track and distance should not be an issue with this one.
Samraat has three career starts, all of which were victories which he has won by a combined 25 3/4 lengths. This undefeated son of Noble Causeway scored his first victory in a stakes last time out when he won the Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct last December by 16 3/4 lengths. He is taking a significant step up in class for trainer Rick Violette, all of the Samraat's previous starts were against New York-bred company. Look for him to show some early speed, as he has led the field gate to wire in all three of his career starts. Like Uncle Sigh, this one will be tough as well. One thing about horseracing is that you should never underestimate an undefeated horse and with his flawless resume, he should be just as tough as Uncle Sigh.
Trainer Leah Gyarmati, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. and owners Treadway Racing, who sent out Noble Moon to capture the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct earlier this month, look to have another Derby hopeful on the trail with Street Gent. This son of Street Sense broke his maiden as a fourth time starter in his last performance, winning gate to wire by three quarters of a length. Two of Noble Moon's previous foes in the Jerome look to better themselves in the Withers Stakes with runner up Classic Giacanroll and third place finisher Scotland. Classic Giaconroll, a son of 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, ran his first race around two turns last time out against Noble Moon and was beaten two lengths. The colt will be making his second start over the inner dirt track at Aqueduct and will be looking for his first victory in a stakes race. He is ccurently 0 for 2 against stakes company with a runner-up effort in the Jerome Stakes and a third place effort in the Marylander Stakes at Laurel Park. Scotland, who finished 2 1/2 lengths behind Classic Giaconroll in the Jerome, will not only be seeking his first stakes victory, but his lifetime victory as well. The son of Horse Greeley is 0 for 3 lifetime, but has been in the money all three times with two second-place finishes against maidens and a third place finish in the Jerome.
Rounding out the field of six is Honorable Judge who looks to give trainer Robert Reid, Jr. a second victory in the Withers Stakes. The Pennsylvania-bred son of Afleet Alex's lone stakes effort was in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall, where he finished last of ten beaten 35 1/4 lengths. However, he really stepped up last time out against allowance company at Parx Racing winning by 2 1/2 lengths.
Ryan's Picks: Uncle Sigh, Samraat, Classic Giacanroll