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Field of Seven Probable for Withers
Capo Kane after winning the Jerome (Credit: NYRA / Janet Garaguso)

Field of Seven Probable for Withers

OZONE PARK, NY – The NYRA racing office released a list Monday of seven 3-year-olds who are probable to draw into the field for this Saturday’s $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, led by local Jerome Stakes victor Capo Kane.

The Withers is a 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race that awards points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis.

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Based at Parx, Capo Kane exits a gate-to-wire score going a one-turn mile over this course on January 1. The Harold Wyner trainee adapted well to the muddy condition of the main track that day and will stretch out to route for the first time in the Withers.

“He’s more aggressive and waking up,” said Wyner, who personally hops aboard Capo Kane most mornings. “He seems to be maturing and moving forward nicely. I’ve been working with him and he’s focusing nice.”

Donegal Bay and Overtook both exit maiden-breaking efforts for trainer Todd Pletcher. Donegal Bay broke his at Gulfstream Park on his second try, breaking through in front-running fashion on the same card as another Pletcher trainee, Prime Factor, who was third in last weekend’s Holy Bull Stakes (G3). Overtook, a $1 million yearling purchase, found victory over this course and distance on December 20 and is bred to run all day long.

Eagle Orb was a definitive second to Capo Kane in the Jerome, finishing 6 1/4 lengths behind the winner and 2 3/4 lengths clear of third. The New York-bred finished either first or second in 5 of his 6 starts to date, which includes taking the Notebook Stakes against his own kind over this course last November.

“He’s been training very good,” said trainer Rudy Rodriguez. “Right now is the time to take a chance, so (the Withers is) the place to go. We just have to keep the dream alive.”

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Risk Taking is poised to become the first Chad Brown trainee to impact the Derby trail in 2021. Like Overtook, he needed 3 attempts before breaking his maiden, which he accomplished over this course and distance in December while wearing blinkers for the first time.

Royal Number could invade from Laurel Park, where he recently dusted first-level allowance rivals by 7 3/4 lengths while traveling 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Mike Stidham knows what it takes to win Derby preps at The Big A, having saddled Independence Hall to win the 2019 Nashua Stakes (G3).

“The Withers is under consideration,” Trombetta said. “He ran a great race last time. We just have to see what we can do this week in terms of training with the weather.”

Shackqueenking joins Royal Number as another Laurel Park invader, where he earned his first stakes score in the 1 1/16-mile Howard County last December. His consistent record (5-2-2-1) hints that hitting the board and earning Derby trail points is very much within his range, but the Gary Capuano trainee will need to improve from a speed figure standpoint if he hopes to pass this latest test.

“If he does well there, we will keep moving forward (on the Derby trail), but this will be the test,” said Capuano. “He’s a big, strapping horse. I don’t think he’ll have any problem with the mile and 1/8. It’s a good test for him and we’ll see if he’s capable and where we can go from there. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him so far.”

Post positions for the Withers will be drawn Wednesday, February 3, with a full-field preview on to follow.

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