Photo: NYRA / Adam Coglianese
The second stop on the New
York Trail to the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday’s Withers Stakes (G3). Samraat (ML 7-5) and Uncle Sigh (ML 9-5), two very speedy New York-breds, head a field of six that
will run a mile and a sixteenth on the Aqueduct inner track.
Between them, the two
NY-breds have won four races by a total of 40¼ lengths. They both have career
high Beyer Speed Figures of 95. In their most recent races they were each sent
off as overwhelming favorites: Samraat at .70-1 and Uncle Sigh at .55-1.
The similiarities don’t
end there, either. They both won their latest start at Aqueduct in gate to wire
fashion going a mile and 70 yards on the inner track. Samraat won the
restricted Damon Runyon Stakes on December 18th by 16¾ lengths earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 95 and Uncle Sigh broke his maiden on December 27th by 14½ lengths with a BSF of 93.
On an inner Aqueduct
racetrack that recently has provided a very distinct advantage to horses with
early speed, the two New York-breds seem to have a big edge over the rest of
is by Noble Causeway and is a home-bred of My Meadowview Farms. He is ridden by
Jose Ortiz, who is winning at a 24% clip during the Aqueduct winter meeting.
Trainer Rick Violette commented about how his horse has won all three of his
races on the lead, "I think he has been faster [than his opponents]. He's obviously
pretty quick, and showed it when he went to the lead from the inside in a
sprint [in his debut]. If others want to be more aggressive, he can let them do
is by Indian Charlie and is a half brother to two stakes winners, Percussion
who earned $447,194 and Slew by Slew winner of $236,364. Uncle Sigh will be
ridden by his regular jockey Pablo Morales, who has only won with 3% of his
mounts. His trainer Gary Contessa talked about race strategy, "Honestly, I'm
hoping somebody keeps Samraat honest. If nobody else wants to go with him, I'll
tell my rider to go out with him. I'm not looking at it as us having to beat
one horse because we have to beat all the horses, but I'm not going to let
Samraat get an easy lead this time."
Neither Violette nor
Contessa mentioned the big question for these two New Yorkers. Both Samraat and
Uncle Sigh have never run against open company and they now face two graded
stakes placed competitors in the Withers.
Scotland (ML 8-1) is still a maiden because of the strong competition he has faced in
his three career starts. Most recently he ran third in the Jerome (G2) at Aqueduct and before that he finished second to the
very impressive Stonestreet Farms and Todd Pletcher runner, Surfing U S A.
Classic Giacnroll (ML 5-1) has the most experience in the field with six starts. Most
recently in the Jerome he battled gamely down the stretch to finish second to
The field is rounded out
with Street Gent (ML 12-1), who
broke his maiden at Aqueduct on December 1st for local trainer Leah
Gyarmati. Honorable Judge (ML 15-1)
is a November allowance winner at Parx.
The Withers carries 2014 Kentucky Derby points
(10-4-2-1) to the top four finishers. A
win by one of these New York-breds would earn 10 points and, based on last
year’s totals, that would get them very close to the Kentucky Derby field. That might be enough to get some racing fans thinking about Funny Cide’s New
York-bred win in the 2003 Run to the Roses.