This Grade 3 Withers, offering 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, pits the winner of the Jerome against some improving recent maiden winners.
#3 Capo Kane must prove that his local stakes victory last month was no fluke, as he stretches out in distance and faces additional pace pressure. He really had everything his own way on the front end in that Jerome score, setting a slow pace on a day when speed appeared to have an advantage. Now the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, as a stretching-out sprinter Mr. Doda and Donegal Bay also figure to vie for the lead. I think Capo Kane is pretty talented, and his pedigree indicates that a little more ground isn’t supposed to hinder him. I’m just a little skeptical that he can repeat his last effort while overcoming adversity.
Of those entering this Withers off maiden victories, I prefer the morning line favorite #5 Risk Taking. This Chad Brown trainee finally woke up last time after mildly disappointing in his first couple of starts. He clearly wanted no part of sprinting in his Belmont debut, though he did gallop out strongly that day. A turf experiment failed, but stretching out on dirt and adding blinkers seemed to do the trick last time out. He was visibly more engaged right from the start with that equipment change and traveled well to the quarter pole before overhauling the leaders in the lane. He finished up like he relished this distance, and he wouldn’t have to improve much on that 103 TimeformUS Speed Figure to beat this field.
Todd Pletcher has entered a pair of well-bred colts coming off maiden victories. #7 Donegal Bay may attract more support based on the fact that he notched that victory at Gulfstream, but he took advantage of a speed bias while beating a mediocre field. I also have questions about the quality of the field that #6 Overtook handled last time, but at least he figures to get the right pace setup here. He also seems like one that would relish added ground.
The wild card is perhaps Laurel shipper #2 Royal Number, who earned an impressive 108 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his recent optional claiming victory. However, he achieved that number with the addition of Lasix, and did so while getting a perfect trip against an overmatched field. I want to see it again, but I will use him underneath.
Exacta: 5 with 2,3,6,7
Trifecta: 5 with 2,3 with 1,2,3,6,7