Belmont Stakes Contenders
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Black-Eyed Susan Day
Abel Mariano and Afleet Again head into the winner's circle after the 2010 Withers Stakes
The final stakes race of the Aqueduct Winter-Spring meeting is the $150,000 Withers Stakes (G3). A field of five 3-year-olds went 1 mile around one turn on Saturday afternoon before 3,965 spectators. As expected, D'Funnybone was sent off as the 1-2 favorite off two straight Grade 2 wins at Gulfstream Park in the Hutcheson and the Swale. In to challenge him included 7-4 second choice Ibboyee, winless since the Damon Runyon in December, but was second in the Swale last out, and 7-1 third choice Castaneda, winner of his last three starts, a maiden, the Fred Caposella Stakes, and then an allowance event, all at Aqueduct.
Afleet Again rallies 5 wide in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Afleet Again Mariano 51.00 9.90 46.60 6 Ibboyee Velazquez 3.90 10.00 5 Spangled Star Velasquez 54.00 Winning Time: 1:34.05 $2 Exacta 4-6 143.50 $2 Trifecta 4-6-5 750.00
Right: Afleet Again returns after the race. His trainer Robert Reid said, "We really hadn't considered this race before Wednesday. It was a small field, and I love the one-turn mile for him, and the big, sweeping turns here. My only instructions to the jockey were to take hold early on, and hopefully the speed might back up. He broke so sharp, and was so close, but Abel didn't panic. He's a big, giant horse, and you don't want to get him checked. Abel took him to the outside and gave him a clear run, and that's what made the difference. Very nice ride. We were concerned the race was a little too short for him; I believe he's a legitimate 1 1/8 or 1 1/4 mile horse, but that said, he's not eligible for the Triple Crown races."
Left: Afleet Again in the post parade. His jockey Abel Mariano said, "It was my first time riding this horse. The trainer told me that the track was deep here and the stretch was long. He told me don't go too wide, let him break, and when you get to the quarter pole put him outside. That's what I did, my horse responded, and I won. I'm very excited, very happy."
Right: Second place finisher Ibboyee in the post parade. The 7-4 second choice sat third about 2 lengths off the pace under regular rider John Velazquez, passed the tiring pacesetter early in the stretch to gain a clear lead with a furlong to go, but was no challenge for the winner, finishing second beaten 1 1/2 lengths. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 9 starts, earning $433,298 for owner Anstu Stables.
Left: Third place finisher Spangled Star in the post parade. The 28-1 longest shot was last down the backstretch 5 lengths off the pace under new jockey Cornelio Velasquez, then came out wide into the lane to pass tiring runners to gain third beaten 5 3/4 lengths. The Richard Dutrow Jr. trainee improved his record to 1 win, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 8 starts, earning $50,470 for owner Lawrence P. Roman.
Right: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite D'Funnybone heads out on the track before the race. His jockey Edgar Prado said, "On the backside he kind of shied away from the horse coming in (Castaneda). I had the chance to get out, and I didn't want to be trapped inside. He just didn't have the finish. The mile (distance) got him."
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