Risk Taking wins Withers, gives Brown Kentucky Derby prospect

Risk Taking wins Withers, gives Brown Kentucky Derby prospect
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

Chad Brown – four-time Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer, but not yet a Kentucky Derby winning-conditioner – seems to have a legitimate Derby prospect in Risk Taking.

The 3-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt, already a maiden winner at 1 1/8 miles, went the same route of distance again Saturday in impressive fashion, winning the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers Stakes. Risk Taking covered the nine furlongs in 1:51.91 and returned $5.80 as 9-5 favorite.

Risk Taking earned 10 points on the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby with his Withers score. Second-through-fourth-place finishers Overtook, Capo Kane and Royal Number earned four, two and one point, respectively.

Campaigned by one of Brown’s top owners in Klaravich Stables, Risk Taking started his career with off-the-board efforts Oct. 10 at Belmont Park going six furlongs and Nov. 14 at Aqueduct running 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Brown let him go two turns on the dirt Dec. 13 at Aqueduct, and the colt responded with a strong closing move to score by 2¼ lengths.

"It really made a difference," Brown said of stretching out. "He’s a horse that always showed a lot in his morning drills as a 2-year-old and I was quite surprised that he didn’t run better in his first two starts. In his debut, although the running line looks ugly, he did gallop out big. It was my error to rush him onto the turf (second out), I was looking for a distance race that didn’t have much kick back, but it just didn’t work out.

"So, we blinkered him up and he got his confidence under him and he really broke through in that maiden victory.”

With that nine-furlong, main-track victory under Risk Taking’s belt, Brown had him go the same distance over the same course in the Withers, the second of Aqueduct’s four-points paying Kentucky Derby preps.

Under jockey Eric Cancel, Risk Taking settled a sixth-place spot among the nine-horse field. Up front, local Jerome Stakes winner Capo Kane clicked through fractions of 24.02, 48.71 and 1:13.17.

Eagle Orb, who ran second to Capo Kane in the Jerome, was the first to challenge the pace setter, moving up along his outside along the far turn. Capo Kane turned that rival away while Risk Taking powered up with a three-wide bid under Cancel.

Risk Taking reeled in Capo Kane under a right-hand crop. He fanned out to take the lead when Capo Kane – similar to how he finished the Jerome – wandered toward the center of the track.

Once by Capo Kane, Risk Taking drew off to win by 3 3/4 lengths over second-place Overtook, who secured runner-up honors in the final yards.

“With the way he ran today, he won’t have any problem going a mile and a quarter," Cancel said of the Kentucky Derby's distance. "He came back good and he wasn’t blowing too much. Distance won’t be a problem for him.”

Risk Taking is Brown’s second runner to join the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Reinvestment Risk entered Saturday’s action 17th in the Derby standings with four points.

Aqueduct's two final legs of its Kentucky Derby trail are the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) on March 6 and the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) on April 3. The former pays 50 Derby points to the winner and runs at a mile, while the latter runs at the Withers' 1 1/8 miles and awards its victor 100 Derby points.

“I would not cut the horse back in distance from here to the Derby under any circumstances," Brown said. "The most logical spot would be to train him up to the Wood, but I won’t make that decision until we observe the horse and I have a chance to over it with the owner, Seth Klarman.”

Top Stories

It has been 18 years since a true shipper, a horse...
Mark Casse had five Breeders' Cup contenders last...
The New York Racing Association has a pair of one-...
Having won more races at a single winter meet than...
Horse bettors face a tough dilemma with Americanre...