The Withers Stakes is an early step on the road to the Triple Crown that runs through New York. Held annually at Aqueduct Racetrack in February, the race offers 10 points to the winner towards a spot in the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby. The Withers Stakes was run for the first time in 1874 and currently is a Grade 3 event with a purse of $250,000. It is contested at a mile and a sixteenth.
Withers Stakes Betting Odds
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Withers Stakes Racing Tips
No jockey has been more dominant in the history of the Withers Stakes than Eddie Arcaro – he won the race in 1940 with Corydon and then continued with Hampden (1946), Olympia (1949), Hill Prince (1950), Battlefield (1951) and Traffic Judge (1955). Trainer James Fitzsimmons saddled six winners and holds the record for the most victories as a trainer.
Some of the greatest horses in history have won the Withers Stakes including Sir Barton, Man ‘O War, Native Dancer and Dr. Fager. In contemporary years, the race has been won by such stars as Bernardini and Alpha.
Bernardini won the Withers Stakes in 2006 and was a relative unknown in the racing world at that point. Bred and owned by Darley with a regal pedigree, the colt had finished fourth in his debut and then broken his maiden prior to getting a class test against graded stakes company in the Withers Stakes.
He gave fans a preview of what was to come with an effortless 3 ¾ length romp over three overmatched rivals despite jockey Javier Castellano losing the whip in the stretch. He went on to win the Preakness Stakes, the Jim Dandy Stakes, the Travers Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup before finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The Withers Stakes has varied in both location and distance over the years with editions being held at both Belmont Park and Aqueduct. The distance has varied from one mile to the current mile and a sixteenth.
Withers Stakes Results
The 2016 edition of the Withers Stakes drew a field of seven with Flexibility, the winner of the Gotham Stakes, as the heavy favorite. Out of the gate, it was the precocious New Jersey-bred Sunny Ridge and Vorticity who hooked up and set the early pace.
Those two colts were engaged in a battle as they turned for home and Sunny Ridge got his head in front. He edged clear to win by ¾ of a length and gave jockey Manuel Franco his second consecutive victory in the Withers Stakes. The favorite, Flexibility, never fired and finished fourth. Sunny Ridge returned $9.50, 4.20 and 5.30.
Sunny Ridge faltered in the next step towards the Kentucky Derby in the Gotham Stakes and was given time off before returning in the summer to finish third in the Haskell Invitational.