Holy Bull, Robert B. Lewis and Withers Stakes Produce Three More Derby Prep Winners
In the East a small field of five produced a solid winner as favorite Avery Island (6-5) pressed the pacesetter, took over at the top of the lane and then held strong in the stretch to win the 1 1/8 mile Withers at Aqueduct by 2 lengths over Grade 1 Champagne Stakes winner Firenze Fire. Avery Island paid $4.30 to win in a final time of 1:51.01.
Out West, a less experienced field of mostly maiden winners lined up for the 1 1/16 mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. Lombo (8-1) was washy at the gate, but he sped out to the lead quickly and never relinquished, opening up under urging from rider Flavien Prat and winning clear by 2 lengths in a final time of 1:45.41. Off at 8-1, Lombo returned $19.40 to win.
Down at Gulfstream for the 1 1/16 mile Holy Bull Stakes Saturday, trainer Todd Pletcher called an Audible, and his Into Mischief colt was an impressive 5 1/2 lengths winner over Free Drop Billy with stablemate Tiz Mischief well back in third. Favorite Enticed was fourth. Audible returned $8.40 to win and sped home in a final time of 1:41.92 for delighted rider Javier Castellano.
All three weekend winners picked up 10 points towards a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, but will have to win again or finish runner-up in a Championship Series race to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Those races begin with the Risen Star Stakes Feb. 17 at the Fair Grounds with 50 points to the winner and 20 for runner-up. Watch for some of these winners and other race runners from this weekend to run again in early March for the Championship Series Derby preps Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, Gotham at Aqueduct and San Felipe at Santa Anita.