The Withers (Grade 3) (KYD)- $250.000 Purse
AQU- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
Feburary 3, 2018
With the KYD now about three months away, races in the TC-chase are beginning to have more meaning. These aren’t the high-point prep races of April yet, but the points attained now will set the tone for what happens when we move into the latter end of the chase. The Withers is a $250.000 race for three year olds, making it on its own a nice race to have on the resume. It runs for the 14th time, and so far the most successful trainers are Sanny Village and Jerry Garcia Racing, who have each won the race twice. 2018 will mark the first time that the race has gone a mile and an eighth, the last six races went at 1 1/16 miles, and prior to that, it was run at an even mile. Last year, Farley On Wheels won the race for Tiratzo, and he’d later win the Wood Memorial here in April to cement his KYD standing. Eleven are going to the gate for the race, so let’s look at the field. Update: Been a scratch, now down to ten.
#1- Charleys Agent (Mb Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The trainer looks to cross this stake off of the list of those he has not yet won (becoming harder to find them), and he’ll have three in this race to try and do so. Despite being on the rail, Charleys Agent does not seem to be his best shot at the win, given he has only won once in seven starts. He’s interesting though, because we all know what the geld can do, and after being gelded in December, he went to the Mucho Macho Man at GP last month and rallied for a second place run. Some improvement off of that, and he could pull this off.
#2- Expedition Everest (Sanny Village, ridden by P Lopez)- Looking for his third career win in the Withers, Sanny Village brings a recent private sales purchase to the race. After two races, Smokey Stover sold him to Sanny for $98.000 in the middle of the December, and Expedition Everest ran for the first time in his new silks nine days later. That was an allowance at PRX, a race in which he came from off the pace to get the win, and earned a 92 SRF in the process. He’s been rested since then, and if there’s been even the slightest bit of progress since that race, we’ll be seeing this name a lot more often in races like this.
#3- Bandito (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by M E Smith)- In eight starts, this colt by Slice has won twice, and is also beginning to find his true form now ever since he finally broke his maiden at GG. In that race, he turned a five length deficit in the final 2.5F to a seven length victory, so say what you want about the competition level, that still says he has some impressive kick. At WO, in the $100.000 Display Stakes, he made up a seven length deficit in the stretch to get the win. However, when he tried the Grade 3 Jerome after that, there was no late push. Hopefully, we at least see that closing drive from him.
#4- Delta Ursae Majoris (Blushing Meadows, ridden by J L Ortiz)- A new addition to the list of great horses that will probably have me double and triple checking the spelling of his name all year. He’s a late bloomer, with just three races to his credit, and breaking his maiden by a convincing five lengths in his last start. That came at GG, so proving that along with Bandito, those GG maidens are more competitive then their purse levels show. In the win, Delta Ursae Majoris ran a 90 SRF, and a similar effort makes him a contender here.
#5- La Grande Terre (Drabfantasy, ridden by K Carmouche)- The trainer is never afraid to put a maiden into a race like this, and we see that here again. However, for as much press as these maidens get when they win a stake, more often then not, they do not. La Grande Terre is intriguing though, because he comes out of the most successful barn when it comes to that tactic, and he also runs for the first time as a gelding. There’s little in the past performances that would lead to optimism, so for La Grande Terre, we’re banking on the skill on the trainer for having a great eye for talent.
#6- Dream Controlled (Mb Stables, ridden by J Talamo)- In his young career, the Controlled Hook gelding has been the subject of as many private sales transactions as he has wins. He’s an unknown, with two wins in six career starts, with his most challenging race being a PRX allowance. He’s never raced more then six and a half furlongs, but signs show that he might like going longer based on a result at SUN. His conformation is balanced overall, so we’ll have to see how it goes. Produced a bullet work at a mile, out of 126 horses, at SA at the beginning of the year.
#7- Residue (Smokey Stover, ridden by V Espinoza)- Smokey Stover looks to follow up his career year last year with some TC success, and early in his career Residue looked to be one to have a good shot at it. He won his first three, including the $200.000 GS Juvenile at DMR on BC Day. Looking to go from the undercard to the main event in his career, Residue has run competitively in his last two races, including a 95 SRF in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, that was only good enough for fourth place. Been showing progress lately in mile works, so he’s going to be one to watch in this race from off the pace. A concern I have for him is that several in here are likely trying to do the same thing.
#8- Ocala Jim (John Henry, ridden by T C Baze)- Looking for a barn to call his own, Ocala Jim landed with John Henry after being sold for the third time in his career, from Williams9, for $55.000. On the track, he seems to be doing every right, with two wins in six starts, and being in the money in all but one start. Likes to be on the lead, and was successful in doing so in an allowance win at SA in January. Predicting pace in this game is a futile effort, so I rarely ever do it, but it does look like that style could be successful here. I’m just not sure if he is quite good enough to win this race, or be in the money. But having a steady trainer will help that, and John Henry will make sure it happens that way.
#9- Local Hero (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J Bravo)- The bloodlines on this one are amazing. First, he is by Niagra, one of the greatest horses ever to grace this virtual racing world. But it doesn’t stop there, as he is out of Distant Cousin, who herself is a BC Champion, winning the 2015 Fillies and Mares Sprint. Her accolades don’t end there, either. As for Local Hero, he is just beginning to make his parents proud, by winning his last two races. So far, they are the only wins of his six race career, and he hasn’t tested stake company yet. Speed figures show continual progress, including a 95 in FG optional claimer last time out. With that, and those bloodlines, watch for this one!
#10- Regret Nothing (Estero Farms, ridden by D R Flores)- Starting on the outside is the horse who has the strongest resume thus far. He’s won two of six, which includes capturing the Grade 3 Bourbon at WO in early October. That victory makes him the only one in here with a graded win, and it’s a victory that enabled him to participate in the BC Juvenile Turf. That didn’t go to well, and he moved to the main track for his following start, the Grade 2 Remsen, which also did not go well. Those past accomplishments don’t mean anything now, he’ll need to be ready to run.
#11- Secret To Success- Scratched
Prediction: Honestly, a very tough race to pick, but I am really intrigued by Local Hero. So, 9-4-2-6