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Racing expert Sweet Lou Monaco's picks for the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct

A big weekend of racing around the country with Kentucky Derby ramifications is set to go today with the $250,000 Grade 3 Withers Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles on the dirt. The top four finishers from the Withers earn qualifying points (10-4-2-1) toward the Derby.

The field of 8 will go to gate for race 8 on the 9-race card with an approximate post time of 4:25 p.m. ET.

#8, Portos, Jose Lezcano, 3-1

Portos is making his fifth career start (1-1-1) and is coming off an impressive 10 ¾-length win in a maiden special weight race going 1 1/8 miles in the slop at the Big A on Dec. 31. Jose Lezcano has the mount for three-time Withers-winning trainer Todd Pletcher. The pick.

#5, Shotski, Luis Saez, 2-1

Shotski is also making his fifth career start (2-0-0), winning two of his last three starts highlighted by the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes by ½ length over Ajaaweed here on Dec. 7. A start prior, he finished fourth in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs on Oct. 27. Luis Saez has the mount for trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer. Runner-up.

#2, Monday Morning Qb, Jorge Vargas, Jr., 4-1

He has finished in the money in all three career starts, highlighted by back-to-back wins with a ¾ length win over today’s entrant New Commission in the Heft Stakes at Laurel Park on Dec. 28. Jorge Vargas, Jr. is in the reins for trainer Robert Reid, Jr. Contender.

#3, Max Player, Dylan Davis, 9-2

He has finished in-the-money in both career starts at Parx Racing, including a 4 ¼ length win as the favorite in a maiden special weight race on Dec. 17. Dylan Davis is in the saddle for trainer Linda Rice. In the mix.

PICKS: 8-5-2-3

By Lou Monaco


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