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2016 Withers Day Stakes Results

horse racing
Manuel Franco and Sunny Ridge return after the 2016 Withers Stakes
Date: 01/30/2016

The highlight race at Aqueduct on Saturday was the $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3), a 1 1/16 mile inner track contest for 3-year-olds and a points-scoring event in the Road to the Kentucky Derby. A field of 6 went to post under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 30's. Flexibility was sent off as the 1-2 favorite off his second place finish in the Remsen (G2) followed by a win in the Jerome (G3) last out. In to challenge him included 15-4 second choice Sunny Ridge, seventh in last year's Sanford (G3) but second in both the Champagne (G1) and Delta Jackpot (G3), and 6-1 third choice Vorticity, second in the Jerome last out.
horse racing
Down the stretch in the Withers Stakes

Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Vorticity to the lead first time by and he set early fractions of 24.56, 49.81, and 1:14.70 while pressed by Sunny Ridge and stalked by 10-1 Adventist and favorite Flexibility. Entering the stretch, jockey Manuel Franco angled Sunny Ridge out three wide for room and he gained the lead through 1 mile in 1:40.08. Kept to task by Franco, Sunny Ridge held off Vorticity for the win by 3/4 length in a time of 1:46.99 over the fast inner track. It wss another length back to Adventist third, who outfinished fourth place finisher Flexibility by a neck.

horse racing

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place   Show
 7   Sunny Ridge        Franco        9.50    4.20   5.30
 5   Vorticity          Ortiz                 6.00   7.90
 6   Adventist          Carmouche                    8.60

Winning Time:  1:46.99

$2 Exacta 7-5                  55.00
$2 Trifecta 7-5-6             308.00
$2 Superfecta 7-5-6-2         456.00
Full results chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Sunny Ridge in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jason Servis said, "I knew he'd break sharp and that was just what he did. I felt pretty good going down the backside. Flexibility had some work to do and I was kind of where I needed to be. It might give him a little trouble sometimes he breaks so good. A win is a win, it's great. We'll nominate for the Gotham and we'll nominate for the Wood but we'll probably do one of them. I know the hype is going to be unbelievable but you know the Derby is 20 horses and the Preakness is always eight or nine. Run in the Wood, run good, then skip the Derby and run in the Preakness. I'd be okay with that."

Right: Sunny Ridge heads back to the barn. Servis added, "He's been very well-schooled; he stands great and he breaks good. I don't know if it's a good thing at 1 1/8 and all, but I knew he'd break sharp. And it seemed like no one was wanting to be on the lead so I was happy on the backside. I'm sitting second and I know Irad (aboard Flexibility) is on the inside and he's got work to do, so I was feeling pretty good."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Sunny Ridge heads out for the post parade. Winning jockey Manuel Franco said, "Heading into the race we wanted to be close to the leader. We knew our horse has a lot of speed. Thankfully, the race setup for it to unfold that way and we took it from there and it worked out good. He's a real grinder, he has one pace and likes to run all day. I definitely like him going further."

Right: Sunny Ridge returns after the race.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Vorticity heads out for the post parade. The 6-1 third choice set the pace under Jose Ortiz but could not hold off the winner. The James Lawrence trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 5 starts, earning $190,400 for owner Matthew Schera.

Right: Third place finisher Adventist returns after the race. The 10-1 shot raced third a length off the pace under Kendrick Carmouche but could not improve, finishing third beaten 1 3/4 lengths. The Leah Gyarmati trainee improved his record to 1 win and 1 third in 2 starts, earning $61,000 for owner Treadway Racing Stable.

horse racing
Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Flexibility returns after the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "I had an inside position. I think that cost me a better finish. I was stuck there and had to wait a lot. He's the kind of horse you have to let him do his thing. Passing the half-mile, I couldn't do anything. The pace didn't help."

horse racing
Sassicaia wins the Toboggan Stakes (G3)

Two hours after the Withers, a field of 10 older horses sprinted 6 furlongs in the $150,000 Toboggan Stakes (G3). Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) winner Green Gratto was sent off as the even-money favorite off his win in the Gravesend Stakes last out. In to challenge him included 5-2 second choice Dads Caps, last year's runner-up and unraced since third in the True North (G2), and 6-1 third choice Sassicaia, an allowance winner at Aqueduct on December 26 and a supplemental entry here.

Jockey Kendrick Carmouche sent Green Gratto to the lead immediately and he set fractions of 22.12 and 44.91 while pressed by 46-1 longshot Mewannarose and stalked by Dads Caps. Entering the lane, Green Gratto opened up a 2 length lead on Mewannarose through 5/8 in 57.37. However, Sassicaia, who was 6 lengths off the pace down the backstretch, came through between horses and outfinished Mewannarose to win by a neck in 1:10.56. It was another 1/2 length back to pacesetting favorite Green Gratto third. 18-1 Captain Serious stumbled at the 1/4 pole unseating jockey Aaron Gryder but was caught by the outriders and walked back to the barn. There was a brief stewards' inquiry into that incident but the result was unchanged and made official.

Full results chart ">Full results chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Sassicaia in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Rudy Rodriguez said, "With the week off I didn't want to jinx myself supplementing him into this race but the horse was training so well," said Rodriguez. "I have to give all the credit to John (Panagot), the managing partner, and Mr. (Robert) LaPenta. He said 'let's take a chance and if we don't like where we draw we'll scratch him.' But the horse gave us all the indication that he wanted to run. He loves the inner track, he's run his best races on it and he was ready to fire and he showed it today."

Right: Sassicaia circles after the race. Winning jockey John Bisono said, "We knew there was going to be some pace in the beginning so I just let him get himself together. By the time we hit the half-mile, he started picking it up on his own, which was good. We had a little traffic there but we got clear. I knew he was looking to kick in and once he got a little clear, I knew I had a shot to get him to the wire. He didn't hesitate too much to go between horses."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Mewannarose in the post parade. The 46-1 outsider pressed the pace under Chris DeCarlo, put in a bid on the turn but was outfinished. The Chris Englehart trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 5 seconds, and 2 thirds in 20 starts, earning $294,974 for owner William Fuccillo.

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Green Gratto returns after the race. The even-money choice set the pace under Kendrick Carmouche but was passed late to finish third beaten 3/4 length. He improved his record to 6 wins, 6 seconds, and 7 thirds in 38 starts, earning $650,514 for owner-trainer Gaston Grant.

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