Risk Taking took a big step forward after adding blinkers in mid-December and did it again on Saturday when entering the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture following a 3 3/4-length decision in the $250,000 Withers S. (G3) at Aqueduct.
Favored at 19-10 in the 1 1/8-mile Withers following a breakout maiden over the same track and distance last time, Risk Taking rallied from mid-pack and wore down long-time leader and Jerome S. victor Capo Kane inside the eighth pole. Opening up late under Eric Cancel, Risk Taking completed one lap of the fast Big A main track in 1:51.91.
Owned by Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown, Risk Taking paid $5.80 and earned 10 Derby qualifying points for the victory. Overtook rallied to get second by 1 1/4 lengths over Capo Kane, who might have found the distance too far after setting a sensible pace of :24.02, :48.71, and 1:13.17. Overtook earned four Derby points, while Capo Kane earned two to boost his total to 12. Royal Number earned one point for finishing fourth.
The Withers order of finish was rounded out by Eagle Orb, Civil War, Donegal Bay, Shackqueenking, and Mr. Doda.
Seventh in his six-furlong debut at Belmont to Nova Rags, who finished second in Saturday’s Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, Risk Taking next tried the turf at Aqueduct but fared little better in finishing sixth. However, he woke up when returned to the main track with blinkers added, scoring by 2 1/4 lengths. He’s now earned $182,530.
“In his debut, although the running line looks ugly, he did gallop out big,” Brown said. “It was my error to rush him onto the turf, I was looking for a distance race that didn’t have much kick back, but it just didn’t work out. So, we blinkered him up and he got his confidence under him and he really broke through in that maiden victory.
“We’ll nominate him to everything but my first reaction would be not to take him out of New York,” Brown added. “He’s thriving there right now, so leave it be. I would not cut the horse back in distance from here to the Derby under any circumstances. The most logical spot would be to train him up to the Wood (Memorial [G2]), but I won’t make that decision until we observe the horse and I have a chance to over it with the owner, Seth Klarman.”
Bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey Jr., Risk Taking was a $240,000 Keeneland September yearling. By Medaglia d’Oro, he was produced by the stakes-placed Run a Risk, a Distorted Humor half-sister to Grade 3 winners Rey de Cafe and El Crespo. This is the family of Grade 1 star and noted sire Seeking the Gold.