By Emily Shields
Remsen Stakes (G2) hero Shotski is likely to be favored over seven rivals in the $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct on Saturday. It is the second of the New York track’s stepping stones to the Kentucky Derby.
Shotski is already a winner over the track and the 1 1/8-mile distance, which is how he took the Remsen Stakes on December 7 over Ajaaweed and Chase Tracker. Jeremiah O’Dwyer trains the son of Blame, who is out of a Bluegrass Cat mare. Luis Saez will ride the two-for-four colt, a maiden winner at Laurel Park by four lengths. He was also fourth in the Street Sense at Churchill Downs.
Todd Pletcher trains Portos, who will start from the outside post under Jose Lezcano. He took four tries to break his maiden, but the son of Tapit finally did by nearly 11 lengths here over the trip on December 31. He was heavily favored that day.
Vanzzy hails from Pennsylvania, but was also a stakes winner at Woodbine last out. He took the Display over local stars by a half-length in his first start outside Parx. Michael Pino trains the son of Verrazano, who is two for four lifetime. Junior Alvarado will ride.
Prince of Pharoahs is by the leading new sire American Pharoah. Linda Rice trains the sophomore colt, who broke his maiden by five lengths over a mile at Belmont Park last out. Kendrick Carmouche will ride, as he did in the Jerome on New Year’s Day here when Prince of Pharoahs was second.
Max Player is Rice’s second entrant. He was second on debut at Parx in November, then won there by over four lengths on December 17. Both races were over a mile. The son of Honor Code gets jockey Dylan Davis for the first time.
Monday Morning Qb is coming off a win in the Heft Stakes at Laurel on December 28. He has won two in a row, and was second on debut in his only other start. Robert Reid Jr trains the son of Imagining, who has never gone beyond seven furlongs but is bred to do so.
Mr. Shortandsimple and New Commission round out the field. Watch and wager on every race from Aqueduct live on TVG.
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