Friday, February 3, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Withers Stakes (G3)

El Areeb Stands Head & Withers Above the Field

By: John Caro, S. FL ThoroFan Member

Well it should be a beautifully cool dry day at Aqueduct for this test for three year olds going a mile and a sixteenth. The top three finishers in the Jerome Stakes are here to battle again with some other handy contenders with dual entries from Pletcher and McLaughlin. It should be quite exciting.

#4 El Areeb (Lynch/McCarthy) – Winner of the Jerome Stakes and two previous wins at Laurel with improving speed figures makes this fellow a top contender over the inner track when winning by 11. Tough to argue that he is not the one top pick.

#2 Apartfromthecrowd (Brown/Ortiz, I.) – Very fine performance last out winning by four but he was a bit rank at the start and when another cut in front of his initial rail bid. His finish was very well done after settling. Will have to use him in the top three given the connections; and their winning ways.

#8 Small Bear (Sciacca/Davis) – Two wins in a row, one on this surface and prep at PARX. Both were visually impressive in the stretch. His last out indicated he can go about his business despite traffic conditions. He could surprise with a second place finish.

#6 Fillet of Sole (Pletcher/Maragh) and #7 Always a Suspect (McLaughlin/Gallardo) – These two are pretty flashy lead and presser types and I would have to give the nod to Always a Suspect even though he has not made two turns I believe Gallardo can pace a race and put his ride in contention. Gallardo’s route skills are statistically the best in the field. Always a Suspect may relish the distance. Fillet may go well and like Union Rags, he may show better as the season moves forward. I’ll play both as third and bottom of the exotics.

#9 Square Shooter (Lerman/Pennington) – This is exactly the kind of horse that scares me. I watched his race replays, looked at his past performances, recognize the trainer has no record here but is 25% winning and 45% ITM with a +.90 ROI. It’s scary to think that a young upstart from PARX could jump to this level, never going two turns and pull off an upset……

#3 Jaime’s Angel (Metivier/Garcia) – He’s been over the track and finished well under another jockey. Maybe.

The rest of the field is not on my radar for the race. The second and third place finishers in the Jerome do not demonstrate their ability to stay on a leader and close. This race likely sets up to be a leader, presser type race and who has the stamina to take it all the way home. 

$30 to Win on #4
$10 Exacta 4 with 2,8,9 - $30
$.50 Trifecta – 4 with 2,8,9 with 2,8,9,6,7,3 - $7.50 – You should buy as many as you feel comfortable with. Save some money for the late races at Gulfstream…….

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