The second of four Kentucky Derby qualifiers at Aqueduct in 2020, Saturday’s $250,000 Withers (G3) has attracted Remsen (G2) winner Shotski. He tops a field of eight sophomores in the 1 1/8-mile race.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Withers offers points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers toward a berth in the May 2 Kentucky Derby.
Shotski stretched out to two turns and sprung an 8-1 upset in the Dec. 7 Remsen at Aqueduct, leading all the way at the Withers distance. The son of Blame registered a 98 BRIS Speed rating, easily the best number in Saturday’s field, and Shotski has won 2-of-3 dirt starts. Luis Saez will be back in the saddle for Jeremiah O’Dwyer, and it will be interesting to see whether Shotski changes tactics with speed to his inside in the starting gate.
Monday Morning Qb has been forwardly placed in all three sprint starts, earning 100 E1 and 106 E2 Pace ratings winning the Dec. 28 Heft at Laurel Park in front-running fashion most recently. A Maryland-bred son of Imagining, the dark bay colt broke his maiden the second time out at Parx for Butch Reid, and Monday Morning Qb has posted respectable Brisnet Speed ratings (95-93) in the last two wins. Jorge Vargas Jr. will be up on the speedy colt.
Vanzzy is another last-out stakes victor, taking the Dec. 14 Display at Woodbine. Michael Pino trains the Verrazano colt, and Junior Alvarado picks up the mount. A New York-bred maiden winner two back, Prince of Pharoahs gained a measure of respect finishing second to Independence Hall in the Jan. 1 Jerome at Aqueduct. Kendrick Carmouche retains the mount for Linda Rice on the son of leading freshman sire American Phaorah. Rice is also responsible for Max Player, who steps up to the stakes level off a convincing maiden tally at Parx in mid-December.
Other runners include Heft runner-up New Commission; and Portos, who exits a 10-length maiden win over the track for Todd Pletcher.