2023 Withers Stakes at a Glance

The start of the 2019 Withers Stakes. This year’s edition will be held Saturday at Aqueduct. The $250,000, 1 1/8-mile race drew seven entrants. (Eclipse Sportswire)

While Mother Nature and single-digit temperatures KO’d last Saturday’s Withers Stakes at Aqueduct, the rescheduled 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep should go off without a hitch Feb. 11 at the Big A.

Withers Stakes

Racetrack: Aqueduct, Ozone Park, N.Y.
Date: Feb. 11
Purse: $250,000
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Race: 9
Post Time: 4:27 p.m. ET
Notable winners: Early Voting (2022), Max Player (2020), Alpha (2012), Bernardini (2006), Housebuster (1990), Gone West (1987), Aloma’s Ruler (1982), Key to the Mint (1972), Ack Ack (1969), Dr. Fager (1967), Jaipur (1962), Native Dancer (1953), Hill Prince (1950), Count Fleet (1943), Johnstown (1939), Zev (1923), Man o’ War (1920), Sir Barton (1919), Colin (1908), Aristides (1875).
First held: 1874

After a field of six was entered last week, seven will break from the starting gate Saturday, chasing qualifying points distributed 20-8-6-4-2 to the top five in descending order. As for how the delay will impact the outcome, there’s no sure-fire answer, except for one voiced by Linda Rice, trainer of the favorite Arctic Arrogance, to BloodHorse: “Ask me that on Sunday.”

1. Arctic Arrogance (8-5 morning-line odds): He’s been remarkably consistent, finishing no worse than second in his five career starts. He was a game runner-up in the Jerome Stakes after missing a workout and should be in better shape for this test, which comes at the same 1 1/8-mile trip as last year’s Grade 2 Remsen Stakes when he was second in a better field. Should be tough to beat in this field, but he does like to finish second.

JOCKEY: Jose Lezcano; TRAINER: Linda Rice    

2. Prove Right (30-1): He tired badly on a synthetic surface last time in a Turfway Park stakes, losing by 16 1/4 lengths. He’s fared better on dirt, but Prove Right did finish 32 lengths behind in the Remsen. While a sloppy track might explain that poor performance, he’s yet to win at a distance beyond 5 1/2 lengths and faces a big obstacle here.

JOCKEY: Jose Gomez; TRAINER: James Chapman

3. Jungfrau (4-1): The newcomer to the field. The extra week convinced trainer Bill Mott to send him north from Florida, where he posted a maiden win at Gulfstream Park. It wasn’t the conventional way as he lost by a nose only to be declared the winner through a disqualification, but he showed enough ability at a two-turn distance to be a factor here. Plus, Mott is on a tear winning the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes Presented by Baccarat and running 1-2 in the Holy Bull Stakes the last two weekends.

JOCKEY: Dylan DavisTRAINER: Bill Mott

Hit Show (Coady Photography)

4. Hit Show (9-5): Trainer Brad Cox scratched him from the Jan. 28 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, which proved to be a wise move after seeing how Arabian Knight rolled to a lopsided victory in that race. This spot will be considerably easier and a better class test as he makes his stakes debut off a solid win in December at Oaklawn that frames him as a major threat in this field – especially if he takes a step forward in this start.

JOCKEY: Manny Franco; TRAINER: Brad Cox

5. General Banker (8-1): He’s been busy lately, running for the third time since mid-December. He’s enjoyed a pleasant amount of success in the last two tries, winning a $500,000 New York Stallion Series stakes and most recently finishing third in the Jerome Stakes at a mile. He switches back to jockey Eric Cancel, which is a plus, but in the Jerome this New York-bred finished seven lengths behind Arctic Arrogance, who will be one of the favorites here, diminishing his appeal.

JOCKEY: Eric Cancel; TRAINER: Jimmy Ferraro      

6. Ninetyprcentmaddie (8-1): Pennsylvania-bred steps up into graded stakes company for the first time after finishing second against open company in the Parx Juvenile Stakes on a sloppy track. He has some speed, but he’s never raced beyond seven furlongs and may find the two-turn nine-furlong distance a bit too taxing in the stretch.

JOCKEY: Abner Adorno; TRAINER: Butch Reid                      

7. Andiamo a Firenze (12-1): The half-brother to $2.7 million earner Firenze Fire showed great promise early in his career when he was third in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes and then romped in the Funny Cide Stakes for New York-breds. But he struggled in two races at a mile, finishing 13 lengths behind winner Lugan Knight in the Jerome. Would think today’s distance will be even more of a challenge for him.

JOCKEY: Frankie Pennington; TRAINER: Kelly Breen

THE PICK: Hit Show

LIVE LONGSHOT: General Banker


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