Brian’s Derby Preps 2015: The Withers

El Kabeir and C.C. Lopez winning the Jerome at Aqueduct last month

El Kabeir and C.C. Lopez winning the Jerome at Aqueduct last month

Aqueduct: The Grade III, $250,000 Withers at 1 1/16 miles

by Brian Nadeau

#1 Classy Class (2-1): Tricky read starts his 3yo campaign as a bit of a wildcard as he looked great winning his bow sprinting, then didn’t fire when a modest fourth over a highly speed-favoring track when stretching out in the local GII Remsen for McLaughlin. Son of Discreetly Mine isn’t exactly bred to run on, but he drew well and should be on or near what looks like a modest pace, so you would think this middle distance route is within his scope. On the face of it, he fits with this group, as there’s not a lot of proven talent aside from the heavy chalk El Kabeir on the outside, but at a false price with others offering more value and with every bit as much upside, let’s make him prove it; underneath, if at all.

#2 Far From Over (5-1): Mighty intriguing runner from Pletcher was a game and determined winner of his debut going two turns over the local strip, which is never easy, not to mention he basically dueled on the lead throughout and held some experienced rivals at bay, which gives him even more appeal. Sure, he spots a ton of experience to these and does step up, but as a son of Blame out of an A.P. Indy mare, he’s bred top and bottom to be a star, and it’s not like the others, aside from the chalk, aren’t in the same boat. Tactical runner drew perfectly, has a ton of upside, and should offer plenty of value, too, which is not something you get from this barn too often; expecting a huge run.

#3 March (6-1): Improving runner looked good winning a two-turn MSW over the track last month and takes the next logical step that most flashy, good-looking 3yo maidens do, as it’s tough to get an N1X to fill these days. No surprise to see a son of Blame improve going two turns, and the horse he beat last time is a decent Pletcher prospect who came right back to win, which is always a good sign, plus he should trip out nicely just off the speed from this post, which would put him in the right spot off the far turn. If they send him off at or near that 6-1 ML, then he’s got even more appeal, but regardless of the price, he’s one to watch today and especially down the road; figures in the mix.

#4 Tencendur (12-1): Longshot has yet to run on a fast track in two starts but exits a solid MSW win, albeit over state-breds, when he stretched out to two turns for the first time over the local oval last month. Much like his two rivals to his inside, he steps up and faces winners as Weaver tries to figure out where he fits in the pecking order of the local 3yos, so obviously we’ll know a lot more about him after today’s 8.5 panels. Son of Warrior’s Reward is still a bit of an unknown due to his two runs on off tracks, and this is certainly a huge step up from the NYB ranks, so you better demand fair value if you’re stringing along. If you’re a fan of lightly raced 3yos who will be a price, then you’ve got your guy, but the gut says this is just a bit beyond his scope; tough to tout.

#5 Unrivaled (20-1): Parx invader got back to two turns and ran off by 15 lengths to break his maiden in the Keystone State last time but meets a whole new kettle of fish as he joins the big leagues today. Son of Super Saver is by a hot young sire and has shown some versatility in three starts with Montoya, as stalked the pace when second two-back and closed into soft splits last time. If you’re a fan of Beyer speed figures ,then the 79 he ran last time puts him right with all the rest underneath, but it’s more likely that he regresses mightily today, as this group is just too much too soon; passing.

#6 General Bellamy (15-1): Well-bred son of Bellamy Road took a while to get going when he was third to El Kabeir in the local GIII Jerome last time, but he did close stoutly when finally set down in the lane and could be a bit more forwardly placed with Lasix added to the package today. It’s not too often you see Mott with an early season 3yo, but there’s a lot of talent here, and that MSW win two-back was very visually impressive, as he kept finding more and galloped out nicely. Where he sets up shop today is anyone’s guess, but you have to think he’ll be closer than he was last time, which will put him in the mix when they hit the far turn, and that could be enough to put him in the number; contention runs deep for the scraps.

#7 El Kabeir (8-5): The heavy and deserving favorite showed a new dimension in winning the Jerome, as this former one-dimensional speedball actually settled a bit before making a push-button move to the lead and widening from there. And it’s not like he had a soft trip either, as he bobbled a bit at the start and was wide early, which could have easily resulted into him running off or shutting down, but instead he just went about his business and did what heavy favorites are supposed to do, and that’s drill an overmatched cast. And while this group is hardly overmatched and is brimming with potential, there’s little doubt this is the horse to beat, at least today, so until one of the new shooters steps up and shows they can play at this level, this guy is still the king of the New York mountain; imposing.


#7 El Kabeir

#2 Far From Over

#6 General Bellamy



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