The nine furlong event over the Big A main track is the next local prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and offers the the top-four finishers points based off a 10-4-2-1 scale.
Third time was the charm for Overtook, who graduated on Dec. 20 going a one-turn mile at the Big A for trainer Todd Pletcher – a three-time winner of the Withers. The son of Curlin came from 10 lengths off the pace with a six wide move nearing the three sixteenths and drew off a two-length winner under jockey Eric Cancel, while garnering a 70 Beyer Speed Figure.
Since his maiden score, Overtook breezed once over the Belmont Park training track, completing a half-mile work in 48.70 seconds on Jan. 3.
“He’s come out of his maiden win in good shape and he’s been training well,” said Pletcher’s assistant trainer Byron Hughes. “I think he’s earned a chance in that race at this point in his career.”
Bred in Kentucky by Hill ‘N’ Dale Equine Holdings and Phillip Steinberg, Overtook is out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy broodmare Got Lucky, who also was conditioned by Pletcher. He was purchased by his owners for $1 million at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“He’s bred for the two turns,” Hughes said. “She [Got Lucky] was a two-turn horse. She was a very classy filly and the further the better for her so we’re hoping that he is the same way.”
Following a distant fourth on debut at Belmont Park, Overtook was third behind stablemate and subsequent graded stakes-placed Known Agenda going the Withers distance on Nov. 8 at Aqueduct.
Hello Hot Rod could add octane to Withers field next month
BTR Racing and Dark Horse Racing’s Hello Hot Rod has handled a stretch out in distance in each of his first three career starts and could continue that trend in his next outing in his stakes debut, trainer Brittany Russell said.
After winning at seven furlongs on Nov. 13 and capturing a one-turn mile on Dec. 13 at Laurel Park, Hello Hot Rod could be a possibility to compete in the Withers on Feb. 6 at the Big A.
The Mosler sophomore ran second by a neck to Doubleoseven in a six-furlong debut sprint on Oct. 30 at Laurel. Russell kept Maryland-bred Hello Hot Rod at the same track for his next two starts, where he registered a maiden-breaking effort by 4 1/4 lengths before posting a 2 1/4-length victory over next-out winner Shackqueenking as the even-money favorite last month in an allowance optional claimer.
The 1 1/8-mile Withers would mark the first two turn race of Hello Hot Rod’s career and would allow him the opportunity to compete in a Kentucky Derby prep race that offers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points to the top-four finishers. Russell also said the $100,000 Miracle Wood contested at one mile on February 13 at Laurel remains a possibility as well.
“He seems like distance shouldn’t be an issue forward,” Russell said. “We could wait for the Miracle Wood. We nominated around to give ourselves some options. They both are options. We’re just going to get him back on a work schedule and see how he moves forward from there.”