February 7, 2023

Capo Kane favored to garner second Derby prep win in Withers

Capo Kane
Capo Kane wins the New Year's Day Jerome Stakes (Coglianese Photos/Janet Garaguso)

Withers (G3) — Aqueduct Race 8 (4:25 p.m. ET)

Capo Kane, who lulled his rivals to sleep in a New Year’s Day romp of the one-mile Jerome S., will attempt to stretch his speed over 1 1/8 miles for the first time on Saturday in the $250,000 Withers S. (G3) at Aqueduct.

The California-bred earned 10 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby in the Jerome and will look to add 10 more to his total in the Withers, which also offers points of 4-2-1 to the second- through fourth-place finishers.

Although he enjoyed only a short lead through the opening six furlongs of the Jerome, the pace set by Capo Kane over the muddy surface was soft enough, with each succeeding quarter-mile slower than the previous one. He opened up late and won by 6 1/4 lengths in his follow-up to a maiden score around two turns at Parx in late November.

Jerome runner-up Eagle Orb is back for a rematch, but the main threats to Capo Kane might come from a trio of recent maiden winners. The Chad Brown-trained Risk Taking, a son of Medaglia d’Oro, improved significantly with the addition of blinkers on Dec. 13, taking a Withers track-and-distance maiden by more than two lengths in his third career start.

Todd Pletcher sends out two last-out graduates in Donegal Bay and Overtook. Donegal Bay showed little in his debut at Saratoga last August, but was nonetheless favored in his Dec. 12 comeback at Gulfstream and proceeded to romp by more than four lengths going a one-turn mile. Overtook prevailed by two lengths at Aqueduct, in his third start but first without blinkers, a little more than a week later.

“Overtook wants to settle and make one run so we’ll allow him to do that,” Pletcher said.

Shackqueenking, a stakes winner at Laurel over 1 1/16 miles in late December, shortened up for the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid S. over the same track three weeks ago but could only finish third. Both career wins have been around two turns.

Also invading from Laurel is Royal Number, who captured a first-level allowance/optional claimer by a wide margin last time while competing for a $62,5000 tag.