Withers Stakes | Race Profile
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Withers Stakes Race History
The Withers Stakes has a storied history dating back to 1874 when it was run at Jerome Park. The race has been run at a number of different New York tracks including Belmont Park from 1984-1996 and three years in the 1950’s. The Withers is currently held on Aqueduct’s inner track in Queens, NY and it is a Grade III event for 3-year-olds with a purse of $250,000. The race is in early February and is a ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ prep race with the top four finishers earning Derby qualifying points (10-4-2-1). The Withers also serves as a prep race for the Wood Memorial in April at Aqueduct.
The Withers was historically run at a distance of 1 mile, and the race record was 1:32.40 by Williamstown (1993). The Withers distance was lengthened to 1 1/16 miles in 2012, and Far From Over (2015) holds that distance record in the Withers at 1:43.93.
Notable horses have won the Withers throughout history, including Triple Crown winners Sir Barton (1919) and Count Fleet (1943). Sir Barton became the first winner of what would be known as the American Triple Crown. Man O’ War (1920) won 20-of-21 races including the Preakness and Belmont Stakes but skipped the Kentucky Derby. Native Dancer (1953) won 21-of-22 lifetime races with his lone loss in the Kentucky Derby.
The Withers was not run in 1911 or 1912 when the New York State legislated a ban on all forms of wagering on horses. Since Aqueduct’s opening in the mid 1970’s, the only horse hardy enough to race in the colder weather over the inner track and then go on to win the Kentucky Derby was 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones.
Withers Stakes Betting
The Withers Stakes (G3) is a race for 3-year-olds held at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York. The race in early February offers a purse of $250,000 and is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The 2018 edition will be contested at 1 1/8 miles for the first time after previously run at 1 1/16 miles since 2012.
Since the inaugural Withers in 1874, the race was contested at 1 mile. The winner of the Withers Stakes is awarded 10 points towards qualifying for the Kentucky Derby, while the next three finishers receive 4-2-1 points.
Weather for the Withers is usually cold, near freezing (32 degrees). After a thaw, water that was frozen deep down can rise to the top of the track on a sunny day and change track conditions in short order. Planning ahead is fine but the winter Aqueduct player has to be prepared to make adjustments on a race-by-race basis.
The Aqueduct inner track has tight, short turns. But the added distance to 1 1/8 miles does not affect a race to the first turn as much as the previous shorter races. Still, racing wide over the Aqueduct inner track does not work well unless the horse is much the best.
The Withers has a long and storied history with some legendary winners including Sir Barton, Man o’ War, Count Fleet, Polynesian, Alsab, Hill Prince, Native Dancer, Dr. Fager, and Ack Ack.
When handicapping the Withers, review entered horses that ran in the 1 mile Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct in January. Look for horses that are working well and have a pedigree and stamina to tackle a run at 1 1/8 miles. Most of the entries will be trying the distance for the first time, so follow the trainers, comments, workouts and history as you prepare to bet the Withers Stakes. Once a decision is made, back your horse with a bet.
Withers Past Winners List
|2/7/2015||Far From Over|
|5/3/2003||Spite the Devil|
|5/6/2000||Big E E|