Withers odds & analysis: Capo Kane the one to beat

Withers odds & analysis: Capo Kane the one to beat
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

The Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on Saturday is the third stop on New York’s road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The Withers offers trainers an early chance to see whether their Triple Crown prospects can handle a 1 1/8-mile distance racing around two turns.

It is worth noting the last two winners of the Withers went on to race prominently on the Derby trail and then were both part of the field in the Run for the Roses.

After his win in the 2020 Withers,
Max Player became a major player at classic distances when he ran third in the Belmont Stakes and the Travers (G1) and then was fifth in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Max Player won the Withers after a maiden special weight victory at Parx as a 2-year-old.

Tax
was the winner of this race in 2019, which led him to run second in the Wood Memorial (G2) and then 14th in the Derby. Tax ran third in the Remsen (G2) as a juvenile before the Withers.

Here is a full-field analysis for the Withers, which is carded as race 8 out of 9 with post time scheduled for 4:25 pm ET. The morning lines odds are provided by the Horse Racing Nation staff.

1) Shackqueenking (10-1 – Shackleford – Gary Capuano / Trevor McCarthy – 5: 2-2-1 - $110,020) This son of Preakness winner Shackleford will try the Derby trail after making all five of his starts at Laurel in Maryland. He was a stakes winner in December going two turns while pressing the pace. In his most recent race, he was third going seven furlongs in another listed stake. The move back to two turns is a positive, but going from Laurel to a Grade 3 in New York will definitely be a class test — especially with other serious early speed. Use in trifecta.

2) Royal Number (15-1 – Palace Malice – Michael Trombetta / Pablo Morales – 5: 2-1-1 - $74,274) This Maryland-bred interestingly has two victories in five career starts, and both of them came while running with Lasix. He broke his maiden at Delaware Park in his debut race in September going five furlongs for trainer Michael Trombetta. In his fourth try in allowance company, he got that second win going two turns at Laurel with a closing effort by more than seven lengths. As he tries a stakes race for the first time in New York, he will have to race without Lasix again. Use underneath.

3) Capo Kane (9-5 – Street Sense – Harold Wyner / Dylan Davis – 3: 2-1-0 - $114,500) This California-bred son of Street Sense won his last two starts on the East Coast by a combined total of 11 lengths. Both of those victories were on the front end with a maiden score at Parx Racing in November followed by a win on the Kentucky Derby trail in the Jerome (G3) at Aqueduct on a muddy track on New Year’s Day. With 10 qualifying points in hand, veteran trainer Harold Wyner will send Capo Kane back around two turns again. The one to beat.

4) Mr. Doda (20-1 – Uptowncharlybrown – Carlos Soto / Luis Rodriguez Castro – 6: 1-2-0 - $34,450) This Florida-bred needed six tries to break his maiden and did that last month at Parx in a maiden special weight going 5 1/2 furlongs against a field of six. He was claimed for $20,000 in October at Monmouth from a race where he finished second. Toss.

5) Risk Taking (5-1 – Medaglia d’Oro – Chad Brown / Eric Cancel – 3: 1-0-0 - $45,030) Risk Taking is another well-bred 3-year-old who didn’t break his maiden until his third start. The $240,000 yearling purchase did it going 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct in December while rallying from a stalking position with blinkers on for the first time. He’s by Medaglia d’Oro out of a Distorted Humor mare, so he’s another one that should have no problem with the classic distances. It makes sense for Chad Brown to test the waters of the Derby trail going nine furlongs in New York with this colt. Possible winner.

6) Overtook (5-1 – Curlin – Todd Pletcher / Manny Franco – 3: 1-0-1 - 57,380) With bloodlines like Overtook has, it was no surprise that he sold for $1 million as a yearling. Curlin was Horse of the Year and the dam Got Lucky, who is by A. P. Indy, was just shy of millionaire status as a Grade 1 winner on the track. It took three tries for this Todd Pletcher runner to break his maiden, which happened at Aqueduct going a mile. He was third behind the Holy Bull winner Greatest Honour in his second start. The distance of the Withers will not be a problem for this late runner, the longer the race the better. Top pick.

7) Donegal Bay (7-2 – Uncle Mo – Todd Pletcher / Kendrick Carmouche – 2: 1-0-0 - $24,432) This son of Uncle Mo was bred by Juddmonte Farms and sold for $90,000 as a yearling. He debuted in August at Saratoga going 6 1/2 furlongs but found the mile distance at Gulfstream Park more to his liking when he won on the lead by more than four lengths in December. Todd Pletcher ships him up to New York from Florida looking for more distance in his Derby trail test. Toss.

8) Civil War (20-1 – Bodemeister – Tom Albertrani / Benjamin Hernandez – 4: 1-0-0 - $40,300) Civil War was a debut winner of a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Monmouth Park in September. Trainer Tom Albertrani then took on graded stakes company in the Champagne (G1) and Nashua (G3), where he could not keep up. Most recently, he was fourth in a starter allowance on a sloppy track at Aqueduct on the last day of 2020. Toss.

9) Eagle Orb (6-1 – Orb – Rudy Rodriguez / Jorge Vargas Jr. – 6: 2-3-0 - $183,100) The New York-bred was second in the Jerome behind Capo Kane after stepping up from a state-bred stakes victory in November at the Big A. He was also second behind Brooklyn Strong, so this Rudy Rodriguez runner held his own against quality runners since running with blinkers. Now,he will have to go two turns for the first time at the nine-furlong distance of the Withers. He’s a consistent type with first and second finishes in all but one of his six career starts. Possible top three finisher.

Summary
: This field of nine should have an honest early pace with three legitimate pace pressers in the field in Capo Kane, Donegal Bay and Shackqueenking. Carrying speed going nine furlongs at Aqueduct is not an easy task, so don’t be surprised if some of the jockeys opt to keep their horse off the front end. With his big victory in the Jerome, Capo Kane should try to control the Withers on the front end, and that makes him the one to beat.

Both Overtook and Risk Taking stayed in training at Belmont Park and did not ship to Florida with the rest of the Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown barns, which makes me think that a start in the nine-furlong Withers was a goal all along for this pair of closers. Both should be full of run down the stretch on an Aqueduct track that usually plays fairly. However, I prefer Overtook’s chances to win the Withers because he faced tougher competition in his first two races.

2021 Withers (G3)

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