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A New York State of Racing

New York-bred Favorites in the Withers

Samraat DR 615 X 400
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 the field.
Samraat 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 that."
Uncle Sigh 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 Noble Moon.
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. 


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Older Comments about New York-bred Favorites in the Withers...

Uncle Sigh for the favorite and Honorable Judge for the long shot.
like Classic Giacnroll in this one...showed some promise in the Jerome and it was his first start around two turns. Like his chances and hope he's around 7/2 or above with C. Velasquez up.
in NY new 3yo races, that is.
Tempting with that speed, jmac, but I'm always looking for an Alpha type.
Now to attempt to figure out this puzzle. Was easier last year.
Samraat is getting no respect and he's the best in the race!
I've said it several times already, Uncle Sigh is going to be a force this year
Anne,i have been in this to long to be impressed by horse that win by poles. That is mostly a result of the competition rather than a true showing of their abilities.For example,one of the products i use when betting are the Bris speed sheets. Let us take Uncle Sigh for example. In his first race which he lost,he ran a final speed figure of 97(very impressive number). In the race where hislegend grew and won by 14 lengths. HE RAN A FINAL NUMBER OF 96.S ame thing with horses like Cairo and Top Billing this weekend. ALTHOUGH BOTH WERE VERY IMPRESSIVE AND RAN FAST SPEED FIGURES. tHE WINNING MARGIN IS IRRELEVANT. When they made their move,the contenders were basically done. They had the secondary horses chaing them. THat in my opinion is why Conquering ran 2nd. Had nothing to do with changing tactics or doing this or that. He was running at tired horses and he still managed to get up late.
Competitive against humans---that is a priceless quote. Love it!
You got it Andy.Why not,he is coming off a lifetime best. Look at the favorite who is an amazing horse now.He is a reformed claimer. I saw it first hand with Rudy last year. Head Heart hoof lost to Comma To THe TOP y inches,and he was pushig him all the way. Looking forward to saying hello.
Like Gary, I'm rooting for Uncle Sigh from a purely "I LOVE Duck Dynasty" stance.
I'm pulling for Uncle Sigh (as are Duck Dynasty fans, though it's spelled differently). It would be great to have a legit NY-bred Derby contender. Don't sleep on Street Gent though.
Tom and it is supposed be 40 degrees on Saturday. I'll see you in the paddock before the Toboggan. Good luck with Don Tito.
Anne i have seen both of them in all of their races. How good are they,i have no idea. The only thing i can tell you is that the horses that ran against them in their 2 blowout races, those horses i thik would be competetive in a race against humans.This time of the Year,if a 3yo wins a race,a big deal is made of it. Of the 2 i would root for one of the truly goods guys in this game. That would be Richard Violette and Samraat.I know the owners ,and richie trained 2 horses for us. Omar Khayem and Little Wizard. I need to see them both in a race against some serious competition. Unfortunately,i do not see anything in this race that i can consider serious. As i say,if either one loses to any of the other horses in this race. They are off of the TC chase. I think Samraat has the tactical edge because of his early speed. But i am looking at 6-5 and 7-5 on the Tote board. So unless i am alive in P3's. I really do not have to much interest in this race. If you get the feed from Aqueduct. Tune in to the Toboggan Stakes. Our horse Don Tito is running.
Tom, have you seen any of these? All sort of off my radar.
Andy ,the track evened out a bit today with the warmer weather. It was basically cement with the cold temperatures and the leftover moisture from the receny snow.
I sure that by Saturday the track is playing evenly!
If you think the NY-breds will find the step up in class too much, or will knock each other out early, there is a good opportunity at odds here, despite the small field.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

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• A Kentucky Derby Field with Just 14 Horses

• What is the Best Kentucky Derby Running Style?



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