Bob Hope Stakes
Getty Grable Stakes
Breeders Cup Wrapup
Breeders Cup Saturday
Jose Ortiz tries to warm up after winning the Withers Stakes aboard Early Voting
The highlight race at Aqueduct on Saturday was the $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3), a 1 1/8 mile main track contest for 3-year-olds and a points-scoring event in the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Conditions were typical for early February on Long Island, with cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 20's, after freezing rain on Friday downgraded the track to muddy. Early Voting was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 11 off his debut win at Aqueduct on December 18. In to challenge him included 5-1 second choice Constitutionlawyer, a maiden winner at third asking on January 2, and 13-2 third choice Gilded Age, a maiden winner at 4th asking at Churchill on November 19.
Early Voting leads down the stretch in the Withers Stakes
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 9 Early Voting Ortiz 4.60 3.80 3.30 8 Un Ojo McCarthy 17.00 11.20 4 Gilded Age Carmouche 5.30 Winning Time: 1:55.90 $1 Exacta 8-9 37.50 $1 Trifecta 8-9-4 407.50 $1 Superfecta 8-9-4-2 2,582.50
Left: Early Voting in the winner's circle. Dan Stupp, assistant to winning trainer Chad Brown said, "He showed some speed in his first race, so we were pretty confident that he would stretch out even further to a mile and an eighth. He broke well and Jose did the rest from there. I was confident in the mile and an eighth. He’s out of a Tiznow mare, so he’s bred to run all day. We were very confident in the distance."
Right: The trophy presentation for the Withers Stakes. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz said, "The plan was to sit second behind the one-horse [Constitutionlawyer], but he broke sharply and I wasn’t taking that away from him. He finished well on a tiring track. One step at a time, but we’re going the right way."
Left: Early Voting walks over before the race. Stubb added, "He’s a horse that’s going to progress with each race. Each race is going to propel him, and we’ve seen that in the morning with him. He was very impressive in his works. Especially, in his last two works leading up to this. He’s an exciting horse and I was really ready to see him run today. I think he’ll move forward nicely in his 3-year-old year. He broke so well and got out there so comfortably early on. It looked like he was doing it so easily. Jose wouldn’t have let him get so far ahead of himself if he wasn’t doing it so comfortably."
Right: Early Voting leads at the start.
Left: Second place finisher Un Ojo walks over before the race. He has one eye, his name translates from Spanish as "an eye". Jockey Trevor McCarthy said, "[Trainer] Tony [Dutrow] wanted to see him sit back, make a run and pick up the pieces. We knew he would love the mile and an eighth. Seven-eighths last time was too short for him. I had the chance to go outside, but he finished up nicely."
Right: Third place finisher Gilded Age returns after the race. Jockey Kendrick Carmouche said, "The track got a little quicker as the day went along. The horse ran his race, but he got a little tired. Hopefully, he will improve off of this. I thought he ran awesome."
Drafted wins the Toboggan.
Jockey Manny Franco sent Happy Medium to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 23.55 and 47.04 while pressed by 27-1 longest shot War Tocsin and stalked by Drafted. Turning for home, Happy Medium tired badly as Drafted easily inherited the lead, opening up by 4 lengths through 3/4 in 1:11.94. Kept to task by Jose Ortiz, Drafted finished 4 1/2 lengths ahead of late-running 11-1 Repo Rocks in 1:25.06. It was another 6 lengths back to favorite Happy Medium third.
Left: Drafted in the winner's circle. Winning trainer David Duggan said, "They went fast enough up front and he got into a lovely rhythm. The speed [Happy Medium] stopped and I knew the seven-eighths would help him [Drafted] because he’s got that patented run if you leave him alone. He’s been showing up without getting his head in front, so it was nice to get him justified. He’s a little hard on himself in the training, so he does a lot of pony work and a lot of lighter training."
Right: The trophy presentation for the Toboggan Stakes.
Left: Drafted in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz said, "I was travelling well and as soon as I put him in the clear he jumped on the bridle and wanted to go. I figured, I might as well go now. It was a small field and I knew the horse on the lead [Happy Medium] is a good horse. So I passed him early, I was hoping no one was coming from behind. I know it was an early move, but I did it to win. It was just a feeling. I felt that it was a good time to pass everyone and I had enough to keep going."
Right: Drafted returns after the race.
Left: Second place finisher Repo Rocks returns after the race. The Juan Vazquez trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds in 20 starts, earning $252,471 for owner Double B Racing Stables.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Happy Medium in the paddock before the race. Trainer Michelle Nevin said, "The track might not have been the greatest down in there. We’re just going to have to get him home and make sure everything is okay."