OZONE PARK, N.Y. – After winning the Grade 3 Jerome on January 2, El Areeb successfully continued his journey through New York toward a “Run for the Roses” for owners M M G Stables and trainer Cal Lynch capturing Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Withers Stakes on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Leaving the gate from post 4 backed as the 1-2 favorite by bettors, El Areeb was in third position with regular rider Trevor McCarthy aboard stalking 29-1 longshot True Timber who emerged to lead the field of ten after stumbling at the break. With the opening quarter-mile going in 24.29 seconds and the half in 49.31, El Areeb continued to race in the three-path with True Timber and Jamie’s Angel up front.
At the top of the stretch, El Areeb came under urging and rallied to pass the pair in front at the three-sixteenths pole to draw clear and extending through the wire to win by 4 ¼ lengths returning $3.10 for a $2 win wager and completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:44.47. El Areeb received a 92 Beyer for the effort.
“I stalked him and let him get relaxed,” said McCarthey. “I kind of stayed out of his way today. I got him to relax, settle and sit three-wide, and then I pushed the button on him and he accelerated.
“He didn’t prefer the surface in the Jerome,” he added. Today, I felt a different horse underneath me. He had a bigger stride and was really running at the end. Cal [Lynch] and his two boys have done a great job with him, so I give them all the credit.”
Picking up his fourth consecutive victory boosting his career earnings to $334,200 and an additional 10 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby following his win in the Jerome with the first place finish, trainer Cal Lynch was more than pleased with today’s performance
“I thought he did it a little easier today,” said Lynch. “I know he didn’t win by as far but Trevor [McCarthy] tapped him once on the neck, he said, just to keep his attention. He’s shown maturity there, when he sat behind those guys. He’s just a lovely horse.”
Lynch added he and the connections will considering all options in New York on where El Areeb will run next.
“To be fair to the horse, he’s done everything asked of him and then some,” added Lynch. “If he keeps doing this, I’ll talk to the owners, and we’ll sit down and talk about where “we’ll go next, probably the Wood [Memorial, April 8]. I don’t know if we’d go to the Gotham [March 4] or not, I’m not sure yet, but that’ll be the discussion we’ll have. We’ll see how he comes back the next few days and make a decision. He’s run every time. He made his [sixth] start today, he’s got a good enough foundation there. He’s got another 10 points from today [towards the Kentucky Derby]. If we’re going to take a shot at these other three things [the Triple Crown], it’d probably be nice to have a little break before we do.”
Hanging on for second was True Timber earning four qualifying points to the Derby after having already picked up two points with a third-place running in the Jerome, with J Boys Echo in third earning two qualifying points and Bonus Points in fourth with one point. Apartfromthecrowd, Square Shooter, Fillet of Sole, Small Bear, Always a Suspect and Jaime’s Angel completed the order of finish.