September 18, 2021

Our Braintrust stretches out in Withers

Our Braintrust and Javier Castellano capture the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park on Friday, June 8, 2018 (c) Bob Newell/Horsephotos.com

Second best to Mind Control in the $150,000 Jerome on New Year’s Day, Our Braintrust seeks his first Kentucky Derby (G1) prep win in Saturday’s $250,000 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct over 1 1/8 miles.

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Winner of his first two starts last spring, including the $150,000 Tremont at Belmont Park, Our Braintrust has run second in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity and Jerome since returning from a six-month layoff. He missed by  1 1/2 lengths in the latter, but was privately purchased afterwards and will start for new owner Gary Barber and trainer Mark Casse on Saturday.

“Obviously, we haven’t had Our Braintrust for very long, but he’s done everything you can ask for,” Casse said. “I thought he’s worked well. It looks like he’s pretty versatile. I know last time he came from off the speed.

“It’s not an easy race. Everyone is trying to figure out where they fit in for the three-year-old division. That’s what you’re doing in January and February; just trying to figure out who is going to mature from two to three.”

Our Braintrust earned four Kentucky Derby qualifying points for his second in the Jerome. The Withers also offers qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

Casse has also entered Sir Winston, who captured the C$100,000 Display at Woodbine over Tapeta last fall after running third in the Grey (G3) over the same track. His lone prior appearance on dirt occurred in his debut at Churchill Downs, where he finished a well-beaten sixth.

Maiden claiming graduate Tax lines up after a last-out third in the Remsen (G2) in early December for trainer Danny Gargan, who claimed the Arch gelding out of his maiden-breaking win for $50,000 at Keeneland in October.

“He’s bred to run all day, he’s a well-bred horse,” Gargan said. “Last time, we kind of chased the pace a little bit. This time, there should be enough pace in the race where we’ll be able to sit off of it. Hopefully, we finish a little better. If we can get an effort like last time, we think we’ll be all right.”

Lucky Lee enters off two blowout wins at Parx for John Servis, while the potential Super Bowl weekend hunch play of Not That Brady enters off similarly easy scores against New York-bred company, including the $102,000 Damon Runyon.

Moretti, a track-and-distance maiden winner in late December for Todd Pletcher, races with blinkers on in the Withers. Also exiting a maiden score is Churchill Downs graduate Admire for Dale Romans.