Withers Stakes 2020: Odds and analysis

January 29, 2020 03:32pm
Withers Stakes 2020: Odds and analysis
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

The 2020 Kentucky Derby trail returns to Aqueduct on Saturday for the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers Stakes going a mile and an eighth.

The Withers is the Derby trail's fourth official stop in New York after Tiz the Law won the Champagne (G1) in Octobert, Shotski prevailed in the Remsen (G2) and Independance Hall scored in the Jerome.

Last year's Withers hero, Tax, ran 14th on the first Saturday in May and went on to win the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga. Revolutionary's the most successful of this race's recent winners on the big day, going on to be third in the Derby.

Shotski returns to head a field of eight 3-year-olds in this year's Withers. They have an opportunity to acquire Derby qualifying points with a top four finish on a 10-4-2-1 basis.

The Withers is slated as Race 8 on a 9 race card with post time scheduled for 4:24 p.m. ET. Here is a full field analysis with projected morning line odds by Horse Racing Nation:

Mr. Shortandsimple [ML 30-1 – Pioneerof the Nile – R. Rodriguez/R. Gutierrez – 4: 2-0-0 - $48,300] The winner of a $30,000 maiden claiming race at Belmont Park in October, he also avoided getting claimed when he was victorious in a $50,000 event at Aqueduct for non-winners of two races. He finished fourth in an allowance behind Three Technique, who was second in last week's Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park. Toss.

Monday Morning Qb [ML 8-1 – Imagining – R. Reid Jr./J. Vargas Jr. – 3: 2-1-0 - $105,000] After running second in his debut at Parx racing for trainer Butch Reid, the Maryland-bred broke his maiden as the odds-on favorite at the Pennsylvania track. He became a stakes winner at Laurel with a narrow victory in the seven-furlong Heft. Trifecta finish possible.

Max Player [ML 20-1 – Honor Code – L. Rice/D. Davis – 2: 1-1-0 - $36,000] Sent to Parx Racing for his first two starts, he followed a narrow loss on debut with a four-length victory going a two-turn mile on a sloppy track as the even money favorite. He was a $150,000 yearling purchase by owner George Hall, who we know from Ruler on Ice’s victory in the 2011 Belmont Stakes. Toss.

New Commission [ML 15-1 – Field Commission – D. Day/A. Adorno – 5: 1-2-0 - $70,100] Owner/trainer Diane Day ran New Commission four times at Parx Racing until her Georgia-bred colt broke his maiden by 12 lengths on a good, sealed track as an even money favorite. He was runner-up in the Heft at Laurel, marking the second time he was defeated by Monday Morning Qb. Toss.

Shotski [ML 9-5 – Blame – J. O’Dwyer/L. Saez – 4: 2-0-0 - $167,222] The $25,000 bargain yearling purchase will look to double his Derby points total after a front-running victory in last month's Remsen. He took the field wire to wire at odds of 8.80-1. That day, he handled this nine-furlong distance, but his lead did shrink down the stretch from 3 ½ lengths to a half length at the wire. Vulnerable favorite.

Prince of Pharoahs [ML 5-2 – American Pharoah – L. Rice/K. Carmouche – 3: 1-1-0 - $58,410] A New York-bred son of American Pharoah, who is owned by the breeder, was a five-length winner of his second race at Belmont Park in October after debuting on the grass. Trainer Linda Rice rarely wins with first-timers. She then gave him more than two months of rest before being part of a dead heat finish for second in the Jerome that earned him three Derby points. Win Contender.

Vanzzy [ML 5-1 – Verrazano – M. Pino/J. Alvarado – 4: 2-1-0 - $89,216] The Parx Racing-based colt won his second start at that track for trainer Michael Pino. Three weeks later, he ran second in the Parx Juvenile after a less-than-ideal start. Shipped north to Woodbine, he became a stakes winner in the Display Stakes going a mile and a sixteenth while leading every step of the way on synthetic. Use underneath.

Portos [ML 6-1 – Tapit – T. Pletcher/J. Lezcano – 4: 1-1-1 - $63,900] This homebred son of Tapit needed four starts to break his maiden which he did on a sloppy Aqueduct track by more than 10 lengths. Previously, in his Saratoga debut at nine furlongs, he rallied from last in a race taken by the eventual Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable. He is the daughter of Fierce Boots, who won the 2014 Busanda. Live Longshot

: Shotski is a legitimate favorite in the Withers based on the way that he handled a solid field in the Remsen for a graded stakes win. His lead did shrink in the final eighth of a mile, so does that mean that he is vulnerable to a horse with a strong closing move in the Withers?

This time, Shotski may face pressure on the front-end from horses like Monday Morning Qb and Vanzzy. If the horses setting the pace shorten stride nearing the wire then I give the late-developing Portos a big win chance.

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