Aqueduct will play host to the Grade 3 Withers Saturday, and of the three Kentucky Derby prep races, this one hits me as the most intriguing from a betting perspective. Eight sophomores will go nine furlongs, a pretty tough distance for young horses to handle at this early juncture.
It’s a fun variable, and it’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to betting this event. Let’s dive in!
The Beatable Favorites
I think #5 SHOTSKI and #8 PORTOS are both underlays at or near their morning line prices. Shotski wired the field in the Grade 2 Remsen, while Portos graduated by a city block in the slop back in December. I understand why both horses will be bet, but I have doubts.
I don’t like betting horses coming in off of perfect trips. Both of these horses fit that description, and I simply don’t think such trips will repeat themselves here. This leads me to believe that there’s money to be made going against them, and I think bettors can do that with a little creativity.
The 8-1 Top Pick
#6 PRINCE OF PHAROAHS was last seen dead-heating for second behind the talented Independence Hall in the Jerome on New Year’s Day. With the exception of his debut on turf, he hasn’t done a lot wrong, and I think he’s very intriguing stretching out to two turns for the first time.
Prince of Pharoahs, naturally, is by the great American Pharoah, and there’s distance on the bottom of his pedigree as well. His dam, My Dixie Doodle, is by Dixie Union and a half-sister to Taste Like Candy, who was second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet going two turns. This trip should be right up his alley, and his proven tactical speed seems like an asset here. His morning line price would hit me as a considerable overlay.
A Huge Price Underneath
I certainly don’t think #1 MR. SHORTANDSIMPLE can win. However, I’m going to have him on my exotics tickets, because if the stars align, I think he could hit the board at a gigantic number.
Mr. Shortandsimple has won two of three starts on dirt after debuting going long on the grass (a tough ask for a first-time starter). His distance-oriented pedigree (by Pioneerof the Nile, out of a Mineshaft mare) should be an asset here, and his lone dirt loss came in a race won by Three Technique, a classy colt that ran second in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn. With all that in mind, I need to throw him in.
How I’ll Play It
I’m going to key Prince of Pharoahs in exactas, and I’ll also have some win money on him as well. I think the price will be right, and that this trip will hit him right between the eyes.
2 units: Exacta key box, 6 w/1,5,8
2 units: Win, 6