Aqueduct's Withers Stakes favors Alpha

Rob Gregorka
Updated: February 3, 2012 -- 2:20 PM ET

Las Vegas, NV -- Kentucky Derby hopeful Alpha is the even money favorite in horse betting for Saturday's $200,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. The son of Bernardini needs to improve his graded earnings to ensure a spot in the Kentucky Derby on May 5 -- and the Withers is the first step.

Alpha debuted at Saratoga last year and won impressively but in his second start he stumbled at the start and finished second to Union Rags. Alpha had trouble in the gate in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and finished 11th but the horse came back to win the Count Fleet going away. Alpha has had just one workout since winning that race four weeks ago but Art Magnuson, the assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, said the horse is ready to go.

Bet the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct with Offtrackbetting.com

"We're absolutely ready to go," Magnuson shared. "He was three wide on two turns the other day -- ran very, very well. I think we're absolutely moving forward."

Saturday's race could end up a speed duel as Hakama will break from the rail and try and go wire-to-wire. How Do I Win will start from post five, and he could be going for the lead. The horse was fourth in the Count Fleet but trainer Todd Pletcher said that the horse was held back in that race.

"He's more of a free-running kind of a horse so we'll take another shot with him," Pletcher said. "He's been kind of inconsistent in the afternoons, as you can tell from the past performances, but when he puts everything together I think he'll live up to expectations."

The second choice on the morning line is King Kid, who got his first win in November at Churchill Downs. He wasn't as good in his second start as he finished third in the Gulfstream Park Derby.

Another horse that should be in the mix is Swag Daddy for trainer Richard Dutrow. Reports indicate that Swag Daddy has trained extremely well leading up to this race. Dutrow has had an excellent meet at Aqueduct with his horses winning 41% of the time.

Don't forget to check out all of the Aqueduct free picks for the Withers Stakes at OffTrackBetting.com -- and while you're at the site, also check out all the big Aqueduct rebates.

The Withers Stakes is Race 9 on Aqueduct's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:05 PM ET.

Post

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

ML Odds

1

Hakama

J. Pimentel

M. Trombetta

5-1

2

Speightscity

D. Cohen

G. Contessa

20-1

3

Swag Daddy

J. Alvarado

R. Dutrow, Jr.

10-1

4

King Kid

M. Luzzi

D. Romans

4-1

5

How Do I Win

C. Velasquez

T. Pletcher

10-1

6

Tiger Walk

H. Karamanos

I. Correas, IV

6-1

7

Alpha

R. Dominguez

K. McLaughlin

1-1

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