By Shawn Rychling
Don’t look now, but the calendar has hit February and as of this writing, NYRA has gone 13 straight days without having to cancel a race at Aqueduct. That’s a streak that comes on the heels of nine straight days of cancellations, including seven complete cards.
The weather is going to cool down a bit this weekend, but not enough to put any Aqueduct races at risk. And that’s a nice thing since the Kentucky Derby trail winds its way thorough Ozone Park as the Grade-III Withers goes off a race 8 with 3-year-olds 1 1/8 miles, which is one full circuit around the race track.
Six horses will go postward in the Withers and while Firenze Fire is the horse to beat, the race may be more wide open than it looks. Firenze Fire has won 4 of 6 career starts and was very professional taking the Jerome just three weeks ago, a raced that was rescheduled from New Year’s Day.
Avery Island appears to be the co-favorite and is coming off a freshening which is probably something he will relish. Off since the Remsen just over two months ago, Avery Island went off the favorite that day, but just never really got going. Kept trying until the end however and ran second to a talented rival.
If you are looking for some value in the field you may want to give California Night a chance. He has just the maiden win, but it was a solid effort and there is room to improve as these 3-year-olds tend to do and upsets happen since many of these horses are so lightly raced at two.
Another price horse may be the Todd Pletcher-trained Bal Harbour. He has 3 wins in 7 starts which is a nice experience load and he also goes third off a layoff after two solid speed figures at Gulfstream.
The Withers is part of the late pick 4 and here is out breakdown:
A B C
Race 6 2, 5 6 7
Race 7 1, 6 5 8
Race 8 1, 4 x 3, 6
Race 9 4 6 8, 10
Best of luck and enjoy the next stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Find out how to get all our Hot List analysis at Interbets.com.