2022 Withers Stakes Field & Odds at Aqueduct

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NYRA Press Release
Updated: February 02, 2022

Withers Stakes Offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby Points To Top-Four Finishers

Courvoisier headlines loaded 11-horse field in G3 Withers

The Road to the Kentucky Derby will go through New York when a field of 11 sophomores assemble for the 148th running of the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday, February 5.

The nine-furlong Withers is a qualifying event for the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs, offering 10-4-2-1 points to the top-four finishers in the two-turn test.

Courvoisier will look to build on a 10-point triumph last out in the Jerome on New Year's Day at Aqueduct. The regally-bred son of Tapit, out of 2014 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Take Charge Brandi, secured outside stalking position in the one-turn mile Jerome and matched strides with pacesetter Hagler around the far turn before pulling away to a 1 1/4-length triumph over the sloppy and sealed main track.

2022 Withers Stakes Field & Odds

Race 8 at Aqueduct on Saturday, February 5 - Post 4:25 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Constitutionlawyer 7-2 Jose Lezcano
118 Lbs
Raymond Handal
2 Grantham 10-1 Victor Carrasco
118 Lbs
Michael Maker
3 Smarten Up 10-1 Anthony Salgado
118 Lbs
Alfredo Velazquez
4 Gilded Age 10-1 Kendrick Carmouche
118 Lbs
William Mott
5 Courvoisier 9-2 Ruben Silvera
120 Lbs
Kelly Breen
6 Unbridled Bomber 12-1 Jorge Vargas, Jr.
118 Lbs
James Ryerson
7 Noneedtoworry 30-1 Silvestre Gonzalez
118 Lbs
Herold Whylie
8 Un Ojo 20-1 Trevor McCarthy
118 Lbs
Anthony Dutrow
9 Early Voting 3-1 Jose Ortiz
118 Lbs
Chad Brown
10 Mr Jefferson 20-1 Eric Cancel
118 Lbs
Michael Trombetta
11 Cooke Creek 6-1 Manuel Franco
120 Lbs
Jeremiah O'Dwyer

Courvoisier, currently 12th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, boasts winning experience at the Withers distance having graduated at 14-1 odds on December 2 in his first start at the Big A.

Trainer Kelly Breen said the sizable Courvoisier, who is owned by Hill `n' Dale Equine Holdings and James Spry, will appreciate a return to two turns.

"He's always been a big boy. He was a big boy at birth and he's filling in," Breen said. "He's a nice horse and I think that the longer the better for him. We have high hopes for him - let him show it on the track."

Courvoisier will attempt to add his name to a list of a dozen horses that have captured both the Jerome and the Withers, including Hall of Famers Housebuster [1990], Hill Prince [1950] and Duke of Magenta [1878].

Ruben Silvera will pilot Courvoisier for the first time, breaking from post 5.

Looking to contest Courvoisier once more are Jerome second, third, fourth and sixth-place finishers Smarten Up, Cooke Creek, Unbridled Bomber and Mr Jefferson.

Trained by Alfredo Velazquez, the consistent Smarten Up was twice placed at maiden level before a nine-length romp on November 22 at Parx Racing. The son of American Freedom made his first venture away from Parx in the Jerome, launching a late turn-of-foot to finish second at 21-1 odds.

Smarten Up will be ridden by returning pilot Anthony Salgado from post 3.

Cheyenne Stable's Cooke Creek, a son of Uncle Mo trained by Jeremiah O'Dwyer, was in pursuit from the four path in upper stretch in the Jerome, but was passed up by Smarten Up's late kick, finishing two lengths behind Courvoisier.

Cooke Creek graduated at first asking in September sprinting 5 1/2-furlongs at Delaware Park. He is the only horse in the field with a stakes win at two turns, having captured the one-mile Rocky Run on October 16 at Delaware Park, three weeks before finishing second in the Grade 3 Nashua traveling a one-turn mile at Belmont Park.

Greyhound Betting

"I was very proud of his run last time in the Jerome on a track I didn't think he'd like," O'Dwyer said. "Pedigree-wise and the way he's built with his style of running, two turns is exactly what he wants. He won going five and a half the first time, but I think that was just his class showing through. When he ran in the Jerome, it was either that or going a one-turn mile at Laurel.

"He's just progressed from race to race and is getting bigger and stronger," O'Dwyer added. "The owners are good people and have given me some nice horses. It's nice to see him do something nice for them on the track."

Cooke Creek will break from post 11 under Manny Franco, a two-time Withers winner.

Unbridled Bomber, owned in partnership by Edward Potash, Brad Yankanich and trainer Jimmy Ryerson, finished fourth at second asking when traveling nine furlongs around two turns in August at Saratoga. He graduated two starts later traveling a one-turn mile on November 7 at Belmont.

Ryerson said he is looking forward to getting the dark bay Upstart colt back to two turns.

"We've always wanted to try him longer. When I ran him a mile and an eighth, he actually looked like he was going to do well and he got to lugging in that day," Ryerson said. "He straightened that out and his last two have been good. He's definitely [going] in the right direction. He's a nice, big horse. He's attractive and has ability and we're excited about giving him a chance here. We'll see what happens."

Jorge Vargas, Jr. will have the call from post 6.

R. L. Johnson's Mr Jefferson will make his third straight appearance at the Big A for trainer Michael Trombetta. The Maryland-bred Constitution chestnut finished a distant fourth in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Remsen on December 4 ahead of his sixth-place finish in the Jerome.

A two-time winner, Mr Jefferson broke his maiden going six furlongs at Colonial Downs in August two starts before defeating winners in November at Laurel Park.

Eric Cancel has the call from post 10.

Among the fresh faces is Klaravich Stables' Early Voting, who will see added ground following a triumphant career debut going a one-turn mile on December 18 at Aqueduct. Early Voting was forwardly placed from the outside down the backstretch and opened up in the stretch before fending off a late rally by Matt Doyle to win by 1 1/2 lengths as the heavy favorite.

"He had some quality going into the maiden," said Brown's Belmont-based assistant Dan Stupp. "Win or lose, we thought the maiden race would move him up both physically and mentally, which I think it did. We saw glimpses of talent from him in the mornings. Fitness wise, he could have used a race to move him forward."

A son of 2021 leading freshman sire Gun Runner, Early Voting will attempt to give trainer Chad Brown his second straight Withers win, a feat that has not been accomplished since the late Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens saddled Spite the Devil [2003] and Medallist [2004]. Brown captured last year's Withers with Risk Taking, who also is owned by Klaravich Stables.

"It really seems like he's progressed well off his first race. His works have been excellent and I'm excited to see him run back," Stupp said. "He's bred to run all day and we thought the longer the better since we've had him. He's coming off just a maiden win so it's a big ask first time against winners off one race, but he's given us every indication that he'll show up with a good effort."

Purchased for $200,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Early Voting is out of the unraced Tiznow mare Amour d'Ete - a half-sister to 2004 Champion Sprinter and influential stallion Speightstown.

Jose Ortiz will ride Early Voting from post 9.

Constitutionlawyer will make his stakes debut following a nine-furlong maiden win on January 2 at Aqueduct. The Ray Handal-trained Constitution colt displayed frontrunning tactics for the first time in his maiden victory, which took place over a muddy and sealed track. Constitutionlawyer built on his advantage through every point of call to win by 3 1/2 lengths and registered a field-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure.

Jose Lezcano will ride Constitutionlawyer from post 1.

Hall of Famer Bill Mott will send out Grandview Equine and Don Alberto Stable's Gilded Age, who returns off a three-month respite following a two-turn maiden score on November 19 at Churchill Downs. Prior to distant efforts behind subsequent graded stakes winners Major General and Rattle N Roll, Gilded Age made a last-to-first move to graduate at fourth asking by 2 3/4 lengths.

Gilded Age, who attempts to give his influential sire Medaglia d'Oro a second straight Withers winner, will break from post 4 under Kendrick Carmouche.

Completing the field are Turfway Park maiden winner Grantham [post 2, Victor Carrasco], two-time Parx winner Noneedtoworry [post 7, Silvestre Gonzalez], and Un Ojo [post 8, Trevor McCarthy] - a narrow second in the NYSSS Great White Way.

The Withers honors David Dunham Withers, one of the most successful thoroughbred breeders of the 19th century. Withers was one of the founders of Monmouth Park in New Jersey, and was also a member of both the New York Jockey Club and the Coney Island Jockey Club. Throughout its rich history, the Withers has been won by 29 horses that have also won an American classic, including Triple Crown winners Sir Barton [1919] and Count Fleet [1943].

OffTrackBetting.com - US Legal Aqueduct Betting online is a great way to bet on the Withers Stakes and Kentucky Derby prep races. Available to customers across the United States, OTB features both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from major racing venues in the US as well as top international racing from Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.

Pre-Draw News

God of Love points to G3 Withers

Canadian-bred graded stakes-winner God of Love will look to transfer his good form from Tapeta to dirt when he ships to Aqueduct Racetrack for the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 5.

The nine-furlong test for 3-year-olds is the next local prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, awarding the top-four finishers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points toward the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

Eclipse Thoroughbreds and Gary Barber's God of Love, trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, is already a stakes winner over turf and Tapeta in only four starts. Two starts after capturing the Cup and Saucer in October on the Woodbine turf, the chestnut colt provided his young sire Cupid with a first graded stakes winner when taking the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Grey on November 28 on the Woodbine Tapeta.

"He's a pretty good horse. If he can have the same type of form on dirt that he does on the synthetic, he'll be a force. In his last race, he ran a 4.5 Thorograph number, which puts you right there," Casse said.

One start prior to the Grey, God of Love finished a troubled fifth in the nine-furlong Coronation Futurity on the Woodbine Tapeta after having to steady several times.

"He was the favorite in his start before the Grey and I awarded him worst trip of the year of any horse I ran last year," Casse said. "It was a terrible, terrible trip. He checked about three or four times."

God of Love joined Casse's winter division at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, where he has worked three times since the Grey. The Withers will be God of Love's first race outside of his native Canada.

"I think he'll end up being champion 2-year-old in Canada. The reason I sent him to Toronto was because he was a Canadian-bred," Casse said.

Bred in Ontario by William D. Graham, God of Love is out of the Three Wonders mare No Wonder, a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Weemissfrankie, who also produced Canadian-bred stakes-winner Muskoka Wonder.

God of Love was a $100,000 purchase at the OBS March Sale, where he was consigned by Golden Thoroughbreds Training and Sales.

Other probable candidates for the Withers include Courvoisier, Smarten Up and Cooke Creek - the top-three finishers of the Jerome - as well as January 2 maiden winner Constitutionlawyer.

G3 Withers Probables- (10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points)

Probable: Constitutionlawyer (Ray Handal), Cooke Creek (Jeremiah O'Dwyer), Courvoisier (Kelly Breen), Early Voting (Chad Brown), God of Love (Mark Casse), Grantham (Mike Maker), Mr Jefferson (Michael Trombetta), Smarten Up (Alfredo Velazquez), Un Ojo (Tony Dutrow), Unbridled Bomber (James Ryerson)

Courvoisier ready to pour it on in G3 Withers

Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and James D. Spry's Courvoisier worked five-eighths in 1:02.41 Friday over the Belmont dirt training track in preparation for Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Withers Stakes, a nine-furlong test offering 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.

"He's doing well," trainer Kelly Breen said. "He breezed Friday by himself. It was a maintenance workout and he's good to go."

The regally-bred Tapit chestnut is out of Grade 1 winning 2014 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Take Charge Brandi, who is a half-sibling to multiple Grade 1-winner Omaha Beach. Courvoisier graduated at fourth asking traveling nine-furlongs in December at the Big A ahead of a 1 1/4-length score in the one-turn mile Jerome contested over a sloppy and sealed main track on New Year's Day, garnering 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

Breen said he is taking a cautiously optimistic approach on contesting the Kentucky Derby.

"We nominated him, but one race at a time," Breen said.

Breen said a decision on a jockey for Courvoisier will be made in the next few days.

Robert G. Hahn's multiple stakes-placed New York-homebred Daufuskie Island worked five-eighths in 1:02.65 Friday over the Belmont dirt training track.

Greyhound Betting

The Goldencents sophomore graduated impressively by five lengths at first asking sprinting six furlongs in a state-bred maiden special weight in August at Saratoga Race Course.

Daufuskie Island picked up state-bred stakes placings in the six-furlong Aspirant [2nd] at Finger Lakes in September; six-furlong New York Breeders' Futurity [3rd] in October at Finger Lakes; six-furlong Notebook [3rd] in November at Aqueduct; and the 6 1/2-furlong Rego Park last out on January 9 at the Big A.

Breen said the one-mile $100,000 Gander for state-bred sophomores on February 12 is a possible target, but he is also considering other options for Daufuskie Island.

"There's an allowance race right before it and if it goes, we'll probably run in the allowance," Breen said.

Un Ojo targeting G3 Withers

Cypress Creek Equine's Un Ojo is on track to make his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 5 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The nine-furlong Withers offers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points on the road to the Kentucky Derby to the top-four finishers, respectively.

Trained by Tony Dutrow, the son of Laoban had his first work since his game effort in the Great White Way, breezing four furlongs in 49.13 seconds over Belmont Park's dirt training track on Friday in company with fellow Dutrow trainee Fair Haired Boy, a 5-year-old maiden winner.

"We had plenty of time between races, so we gave him a little bit of a break there immediately after the stakes and we're extremely happy with him," Dutrow said. "If things keep going the way they are today, he'll be in the Withers."

Un Ojo's second in the Great White Way was the first stakes placing of his career, fighting on valiantly with eventual winner Geno down the stretch to be defeated just a neck despite losing momentum when he was bumped by Geno at the sixteenth pole.

Dutrow said he is not concerned with Un Ojo's step up to the graded ranks for the first time.

"I think he'll manage it just fine. We're feeling very good about the distance and how the race is coming up," said Dutrow. "His breeding says that the distance shouldn't be a problem. We are looking forward to it for sure."

Other horses under consideration for the Withers include the top-three finishers of the Jerome - Courvoisier, Smarten Up and Cooke Creek - as well as maiden winner Constitutionlawyer.

Dutrow also worked Buy Land and See on Friday, sending out the 5-year-old son of Cairo Prince to drill a bullet four furlongs in 47.60 over Belmont's dirt training track, the fastest of 110 works for that distance Friday.

"He's a talented horse and did it the right way," Dutrow said. "He didn't stress himself [in the work] and we're very happy with him."

Buy Land and See, a stakes winner on the turf with a gritty neck win in the Awad at Belmont in 2019, made his dirt debut in his last start, finishing third in a one-mile optional claimer at Aqueduct on December 31.

Dutrow said the grey showed enough in his last effort to continue racing on the main track.

"We'll run him in the same condition as last time. We thought it was a positive effort the last time and we'll try it again," said Dutrow. "The switch was pretty easy for him."

Out of the Maria's Mon mare Twiggles, Buy Land and Sea is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes-placed stakes winner Sweet Bye and Bye.

Unbridled Bomber eyeing graded debut in Withers

Edward Potash, Brad Yankanich, and trainer Jim Ryerson's Unbridled Bomber returned to work Tuesday in his second breeze since a fourth-place finish behind Courvoisier in the $150,000 Jerome on New Year's Day at Aqueduct Racetrack.

A dark bay son of Upstart, Unbridled Bomber breezed a bullet five-eighths in 1:00.60 over Belmont Park's dirt training track on January 25, giving his connections the green light to point to the nine-furlong Grade 3, $250,000 Withers at Aqueduct on February 5.

"We're headed to the Withers next and we're happy with how he's doing. We're happy with how he ran last time and with his last couple races," Ryerson said. "We'll see if he can stretch out and handle the ground."

Unbridled Bomber finished eighth on debut at Saratoga in July sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs before stretching out to nine furlongs and then back to one mile to break his maiden at fourth asking on November 7 at Belmont.

Unbridled Bomber stuck to a one-turn mile in the Jerome over a sloppy and sealed track next time out, held off the pace in seventh by regular rider Dylan Davis through the first quarter-mile after breaking a step slow. Swung three-wide in the turn, the 3-year-old colt seemed ready to unleash a bid for the lead but never kicked away and lost show honors to Cooke Creek by three-quarters of a length.

"As the way the day went, speed was so dominant over that track," said Ryerson. "We really couldn't have put him into the pace and so we just had to see how it would go [from off the pace]. I thought he ran very well."

Anthony Perri's Open Til Midnight graduated in a state-bred maiden special weight at the Big A on November 18 in his fifth start for Ryerson, stretching out to 1 1/6 miles on the turf under Jose Lezcano after starting his career off sprinting.

The 3-year-old son of Midnight Storm cut back to six furlongs last time out to finish fifth in his first start against winners on December 3, a move Ryerson said was due in part to the closure of the Aqueduct turf course for winter.

"That was the only race available for him before the turf closed. He can run one-turn races on the turf though and I think he's a nice New York-bred that we have hopes for having a nice three-year-old year," said Ryerson.

The dark bay colt's recent works over Belmont's dirt training track include a bullet half-mile in 48 seconds flat on January 25. Ryerson said a dirt debut will be in Open Til Midnight's future.

"He's been turf but we want to try him on the dirt," said Ryerson. "He worked really well over it the other day and we'll see what the new condition book has and what happens with him."

Multiple stakes-placed Market Alert exited well from a fourth-place allowance effort at the Big A on January 8 and will run again sometime in February. A 4-year-old New York-bred son of D'Funnybone, Market Alert flashed his talent early on with a pair of stakes placings as a juvenile in Aqueduct's Notebook and NYSSS Great White Way.

With an allowance win to start his sophomore campaign, Market Alert went on to earn another stakes placing with a second in the Mike Lee at Belmont and another allowance win in November. The chestnut gelding closed out the year in the NYSSS Thunder Rumble on December 5, finishing a well-beaten ninth in the field of 11.

"He ran a couple nice races and then we ran him in the stakes and were a little disappointed, but it was a tough race," Ryerson said. "We're happy with him so far."

Ryerson also noted that Miss Marissa, winner of the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap and Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan last year, has been privately sold by her owners to Japanese interests.

Mr Jefferson Prepping for Withers

Trainer Michael Trombetta said he is eyeing a return to New York for R. Larry Johnson homebred Mr Jefferson in Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Withers, at Aqueduct Racetrack. The nine-furlong test for sophomores offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.

The Maryland-bred Constitution chestnut shipped to Aqueduct for his last two starts, finishing a distant fourth in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Remsen on December 4 ahead of a sixth-place finish in the one-turn mile Jerome which was contested over a sloppy and sealed track on New Year's Day.

A two-time winner, Mr Jefferson broke his maiden going six furlongs at Colonial Downs in August two starts before defeating winners in November at Laurel Park.

Trombetta said Mr Jefferson will benefit from the stretch out in distance.

"More than likely, I'll send Mr Jefferson up. The two turns definitely helps him," Trombetta said. "The first time I brought him up, I thought he ran well. The last time I don't think he liked the track very much. That might have had something to do with the sub-par performance."

Mr Jefferson was initially breezing over the synthetic surface at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, but has posted his last two works over the main track at Laurel. He went an easy half-mile in 50.80 seconds Sunday.

"The track was deep because of the cold weather, but he worked well," Trombetta said.

Mr Jefferson is out of the Malibu Moon mare Clockstrucktwelve, who is a half-sister to multiple stakes-winning sprinter Never Enough Time - a daughter of Munnings, who also is trained by Trombetta.

While Mr Jefferson will make the trek to New York, Trombetta said his stablemate Conclusive, also a two-time winner, will likely remain in Maryland for the $100,000 Miracle Wood on February 19 going one mile at Laurel Park.

Owned by Sonata Stable, Conclusive defeated winners going 1 1/16-miles on January 2 at Laurel last out, where he set the pace and built on his advantage throughout, winning by 5 3/4 lengths.

On Saturday, Trombetta sent out Three Diamonds Farm's Jakarta to finish third in the Grade 2 Inside Information on the Pegasus World Cup undercard at Gulfstream Park.

The two-time black type stakes-winning Bustin Stones mare arrived at the Inside Information off a three-length triumph in the seven-furlong Mrs. Claus on December 28 at Parx. Trombetta said the Grade 3, $250,000 Barbara Fritchie on February 19 at Laurel Park, also run at seven furlongs, would be her likely next target.

"Finishing third in a Grade 2 is not bad. If she trains well, we could go back north for the Barbara Fritchie," Trombetta said.

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