Withers Odds and Pick Recommendations: Handicapping Saturday’s Feature at Aqueduct

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Will early February produce another Early Voting?

That’s what six entrants in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes start to answer in the $250,000 1 1/8-mile showcase Saturday from Aqueduct in New York. Early Voting, who captured this race last year, went on to seize the Preakness, the middle jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, last May.

Editor’s note: NYRA canceled Friday and Saturday racing at Aqueduct due to weather. The Withers has been rescheduled for next Saturday, Feb. 11.

2023 Withers Field: Post Positions, Odds, Jockeys, Trainers

Here are morning-line odds and pick recommendations for the six-horse field.

PPHorseML OddsJockey Trainer
1Ninetyprcentmaddie5-1Abner AdornoRobert E. Reid, Jr.
2General Banker8-1Eric CancelJames W. Ferraro
3Arctic Arrogance7-5Jose LezcanoLinda Rice
4Andiamo a Firenze10-1Kendrick CarmoucheKelly J. Breen
5Hit Show8-5Manuel FrancoBrad H. Cox
6Prove Right15-1Jose Antonio GomezJames K. Chapman

Withers, a Stop on Road to Kentucky Derby

The 2023 Withers awards 20 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, which determines the final Derby field through a series of qualifying races in the winter and spring.

Connections for the top 20-point totals in the series are awarded Kentucky Derby invitations.

The Withers awards 20-8-6-4-2 points for the top five spots, respectively. Whomever wins will be on the verge of qualifying for the Run for the Roses.

Post time is 3:44 p.m. Saturday. Gamblers can access the action via FanDuel TV, at the racetrack itself, or through varied simulcast outlets.

Breaking Down the Withers Field

Here’s a look at the field, from the rail out. Odds will be official at post time, per pari-mutuel rules.

1. Ninetyprcentmaddie

Ambitiously placed, having not run past seven furlongs in five career efforts. Step up to 1 1/8 miles and shipping from Parx Racing to Aqueduct are stiff tests.

2. General Banker

Has one win, three seconds, and a third in nine career trips. That includes a run of one victory, a second, and a third in three Aqueduct efforts.

Comes off a quality third-place finish in the $150,000 Jerome on Jan. 7. Deep stalking trip, was able to storm past tiring early speed to finish third. Was moving well at the end of the race.

Should put in a good effort. Likes the track.

3. Arctic Arrogance

Major threat. Has beaten General Banker and Andiamo a Firenze, two of his Withers rivals.

Has two straight second-place finishes, including a thrilling shootout with Lugan Knight in the Jerome Stakes. At 6-to-5 odds, he pulled even at the homestretch and looked ready to storm by Lugan Knight, but could not.

The two matched strides in an excellent stretch duel battle before Lugan Knight prevailed.

Has never been worse than second in five career starts. One of those place efforts came in the Grade 2 Remsen, also at Aqueduct at this exact distance, in the slop.

Aqueduct Racetrack, Queens, New York
Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York (photo by Leonard Zhukovsky)

Will look to break on top. In his two biggest races, he’s gotten the lead but been dogged by an early speed duel, which may have hurt him down the lane.

The horse to beat.

4. Andiamo a Firenze

Had no excuses in the Jerome Stakes. Ran well to the turn, was in position to strike, but hit the wall, fading completely out of it.
Must now face Arctic Arrogance after finishing several lengths behind him.

5. Hit Show

Nice trajectory in winning debut and then prevailing in allowance optional claiming in his third outing.

Takes a significant jump in class and must ship to Aqueduct. May be too much.

6. Prove Right

Could not make the jump from allowance into stakes company, as he was 7th in the Remsen, albeit in the slop. Followed by finishing last in the Turfway Prevue, for $125,000. Pass.

Withers Betting Overview & Pick Recommendation

The small field means that one win bet and one exacta box is about as far as you’d want to go. Spreading in exotics won’t provide the return. Artic Arrogance will be tough to beat.



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About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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