The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 continues at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday with the G3 Withers Stakes and even money favorite Alpha drew the outside post against six rivals.
I have always been fond of #7 Alpha (1-1). He was my top ranked Derby contender when I started tracking the current sophomores last September. Kiaran McLaughlin’s exciting son of Bernardini was a sharp winner right out of the box in his extended sprint bow at the Spa last summer and came right back to land the place behind highly regarded colt Union Rags in the G1 Champagne.
Alpha came unglued at the gate in the G1 BC Juvenile and ended up a disappointing 11th after stalking the pace. He resumed training in Florida during the month of December before returning to the Big Apple to impressively snare his 3-year-old debut in the Count Fleet Stakes on Jan 7.
Once again, Alpha had some gate issues in the Count Fleet and has been successfully schooling at the Big A ever since. He fired a best of 14 Belmont training track bullet for this engagement on Jan 30 and looms large at low odds.
#1 Hakama (5-1) is the one to catch from the rail and might be dangerous if the inner dirt track is favoring speed. The Michael Trombetta runner exits back-to-back route wire jobs including a local maiden win Dec 10.
Sagamore Farm runner #6 Tiger Walk (6-1) is firing bullets for his first start of the season. He ended his juvenile campaign with back-to-back wins on turf and dirt at Laurel Park and should offer value at 6-1. He’s the wildcard.
#2 Speightscity (20-1) was dusted by Alpha in the Count Fleet but he was bumped at the start and raced wide from an outer post that day. He lands a better post and can grab a piece of this with better racing luck.
#4 King Kid (4-1) was sharp in his extended sprint bow and finished a solid 3rd in the Gulfstream Park Derby last time. He has upside with only two races under his belt. His pedigree screams turf (Lemon Drop Kid-Royal Academy).
#3 Swag Daddy (10-1) owns running style versatility and captured his last two inner dirt routes against NY-breds. He faces open company for the first time and shows an improving numbers pattern.
Pace factor #5 How Do I Win (10-1) faded to 4th after tracking the leader in the Count Fleet and it might be deja vu all over again with early runner Hakama breaking from the rail.
$4 Exacta 7-2
$1 Trifecta 7/1-6/ALL ($10)
$1 Trifecta 7/ALL/1-6 ($10)
$1 Trifecta 1-6/7/ALL ($10)
$1 Trifecta 1-6-7/1-6-7/2 ($6)