Avery Island (Coglianese Photos/Joe Labozzetta)
Withers Stakes Winner Avery Island
by Alastair Bull
McKinzie may be the most talked about son of Street Sense aiming for the Kentucky Derby as of early February 2018, but Avery Island put himself in the conversation after his clear-cut victory in the 1 1/8-mile Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Feb. 3.
The Godolphin homebred was sent off favorite in the Withers Stakes, despite the presence of Champagne Stakes (G1) victor Firenze Fire and the highly-rated maiden winner Marconi, and he won in style, sitting outside the leader before surging clear in the stretch to win by two lengths.
It was the second win at graded stakes level for Avery Island, who last November won the Nashua Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct by 4 ¾ lengths. He came into that racing having finished seventh in his debut at Saratoga in August and then winning a maiden at Belmont Park Sept. 30.
In between the Nashua Stakes and the Withers Stakes, Avery Island had finished second in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 2, beaten 4 ¾ lengths by Catholic Boy.
Avery Island’s sire Street Sense is best-known as the first horse to win both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and the Kentucky Derby, breaking a 23-year hoodoo. He clearly stayed 1 ¼ miles in the Derby, and has sired more than 50 stakes winners.
Few of his American stakes winners have won at 1 ¼ miles, though this maybe reflects a lack of opportunities. At 1 1/8 miles his leading progeny include Wedding Toast, Unlimited Budget, and Cigar Street.
The situation is a little different in Australia, to which Street Sense was a regular shuttler. There he has had black-type winners that stayed up to 1 ½ miles on turf, most notably the grade one winner Sense of Occasion.
Avery Island is the third foal of Kinda Spicy (A.P. Indy), who won her only two starts, the second being at 1 1/8 miles. Her previous foals were the non-winning mare Golden Muscade and the winning filly Tasteful, who is by Street Sense’s sire Street Cry.
Kinda Spicy’s dam will give the Godolphin team some confidence about Avery Island’s potential to stay 1 ¼ miles. Isola Piu Bella was the champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year in Chile, winning four grade one races between one mile and 1 3/8 miles in 2003. Brought to the United States, Isola Piu Bella won three of her seven starts, all at 1 1/8 miles, including the Sabin Handicap (G3) and the Sixty Sails Handicap (G3).
With these bloodlines, and judging on his racing style to date, Avery Island should be able to stay 1 ¼ miles. The big question about his Derby prospects is probably whether he will prove good enough.