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Photo of Revolutionary courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA

The $200,000 Withers Stakes (G3) is the first of two prep races on the road to the $1 million Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) on April 6. Not only that, the Withers is a points race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the new system which will determine which horses are eligible to enter the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. As it is unlikely that victory in any one race early in the series will be good enough to guarantee a starting spot on Derby Day, races like the Withers take on added importance for aspiring 3-year-olds.

Leading the field for the Withers is Revolutionary, who although just breaking his maiden (winning for the first time) in his most recent start, did so by 8 1/2 widening lengths at Aqueduct and stamped himself a potential star. The horse in the field with the best credentials is Siete de Oros, who battled head-and-head down the entire length of the stretch last month in the Jerome Stakes (G2), coming up inches short of victory on the finish line. Jerome third- and fourth-place finishers, Amerigo Vespucci and Long River, hope to improve and make their mark, while Damon Runyon Stakes winner Smooth Bert hopes to transfer his form from the main track at Aqueduct to the winterized Inner Dirt track surface and win again. Valid (like Revolutionary) just broke his maiden but also did so impressively and could improve to be a contender in this race, while Escapefromreality won in his debut in November then missed by a neck in a big effort in his most recent race. Maiden (non-winner) Champion Boy rounds out the field. 

Revolutionary finished no worse than third in his first three career starts before getting his act together to win as he pleased on Dec. 28 at Aqueduct, earning a stakes-quality (and field-high) 114 Equibase Speed Figure while drawing off to win easily. Flattered when the well-beaten runner-up came back to win his next race, Revolutionary took a liking to the Inner Track at Aqueduct when running over it for the first time. With jockey Javier Castellano flying up from Florida, where he’s been riding all winter, to ride Revolutionary for North America’s perennial leading trainer by earnings,  Todd Pletcher, this rising star could really put his name on the map for the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a win.

Escapefromreality was making only the second start of his career when last seen at the end of December, improving from an 85 Equibase Speed Figure in his debut to 95 when missing by a head on the finish line. With both starts to date being sprints (under a mile), Escapefromreality appears to have a good foundation for running in a two-turn race for the first time in the Withers and should be able to take another step forward. If so, Escapefromreality, who is a gelding, could make his mark in the 3-year-old division, just like another New York-bred gelding named Funny Cide (2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner) did exactly 10 years ago.


Revolutionary Inside

Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA

Siete de Oros nearly pulled off a huge upset at odds of 41-to-1 last month in the Jerome Stakes when missing by a head at the finish line to Vyjack. Although not well regarded by the bettors, Siete de Oros had shown signs he might be competitive as he had finished third in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes right before that. The blinkers (a cloth hood with cups that limits the peripheral vision of a horse enabling him/her to focus) added for the Jerome really helped Siete de Oros to battle head-and-head down the entire length of the stretch in his best effort to date, earning a 106 speed figure. Having improved from a 90 figure two before the Jerome to 92 then to 106, Siete de Oros is on a pattern for more improvement and therefore is a strong contender to win the Withers.

The rest of the field (with their best representative Equibase Speed Figure): Amerigo Vespucci (101), Champion Bay (87), Long River (100), Smooth Bert (88) and Valid (94).

My Selections:



Siete de Oros


$200,000 Withers Stakes (G3)

Saturday, Aqueduct, Race 9, 4:18 p.m. ET

1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds







Long River (KY)

I. Ortiz Jr.


K P McLaughlin


Valid (VA)

J. Alvarado


K P McLaughlin


Revolutionary (KY)

J. Castellano


T A Pletcher


Escapefromreality (NY)

J.L. Ortiz


D A Schettino


Amerigo Vespucci (KY)

E.D. Rodriguez


T J Tullock Jr.


Siete de Oros (PA)

M. Remedio


R Preciado


Champion Boy (KY)

E. Castro


J C Guerrero


Smooth Bert (NY)

M.J. Luzzi


L Gyarmati

Coupled Entries: Long River, Valid

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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