Image for Brian Zipse Brian Zipse - October 14, 2022

Withers Stakes (Aqueduct) Predictions, Odds & Picks

Withers Stakes Aqueduct
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Risk Taking (5/1)

Brian Zipse

Post Position and Odds – Withers Stakes

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2021 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
T McCarthy G Capuano
P Morales M Trombetta
D Davis H Wyner
4 MR. DODA 20/1
L Rodriguez Castro C Soto
E Cancel C Brown
M Franco T Pletcher
K Carmouche T Pletcher
8 CIVIL WAR 20/1
B Hernandez T Albertrani
J Vargas Jr R Rodriguez

Best Bets for the Withers Stakes

Here are my plays ($42 in total)

$12 Exacta box – Risk Taking and Overtook = $24

$6 Exacta part wheel – Risk-Taking over Capo Kane, Donegal Bay, and Royal Number = $18

Top Pick:

Risk-Taking (5/1)

Fresh off a convincing score in last month’s Jerome Stakes, Capo Kane returns to New York from his base at Parx to top a field of nine 3-year-olds set for Saturday’s Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

Trained by Harold Wyner and ridden by Dylan Davis, Capo Kane pulled off a bit of an upset in his last visit to Aqueduct when he ran off and hid from his Jerome rivals at odds of nearly 7-1. That 6 ¼-length romps came at one mile in the mud. A winner of two straight, he will be asked to carry his strong early speed an extra furlong for the 1 ⅛-mile Withers.

Chief among his competition will be a trio of last out winners from Eclipse Award-winning trainers — two from the barn of Todd Pletcher, and one from the barn of Chad Brown.

Pletcher will send Donegal Bay, a wire to wire winner at Gulfstream Park last time in his second career start, and Overtook, who rallied from well back to break his maiden last time at Aqueduct. While Brown will counter with Risk-Taking, who looked good going the distance in December, also at Aqueduct.

The Withers will offer the top four finishers Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a scale of 10-4-2-1.

How to Watch the Withers Stakes

Withers Stakes Information
What Withers Stakes (Grade 3)
Where Aqueduct
When Saturday, February 6 — 4:25 pm Eastern time
How to Watch Fox Sports 1
Purse $250,000

Race Analysis

Capo Kane

This son of Street Sense is a deserving favorite off that big win in the Jerome. His first two career races at Parx were quite promising as well. The way he has dominated in his last two performances does make me believe he is a horse of some quality. As a speed horse, he can generally control things, but this field does look to have more speed than he saw last time. Add in the extra furlong on Saturday, and I do believe he is a vulnerable favorite. He also ran a little erratically down the lane last time. While there is good reason to believe he can make it two straight stakes wins at Aqueduct, as the favorite, I am willing to take a shot against him.

Donegal Road

One of two from trainer Todd Pletcher, this one improved in a big way in his second career start, leading a good field of maidens at Gulfstream Park on a merry chase. Despite the stylish win, I am not sure how it will translate here, as everything will be different on Saturday. There is another speed to contend with as he ships to a very different type of track, which can be very tiring. Add in the extra distance, and it all looks like a tough ask. He looks to have the talent and is dangerous, but I do like the other Pletcher a bit better on Saturday.

Risk Taking

A well-bred $240,000 yearling purchase, this son of Medaglia d’Oro is the only horse in the field with a win at the 9-furlong distance, and he did it over the same demanding surface that he will see on Saturday. That victory came in his first race with blinkers on, which helped him stay in touch early. Saturday will be an acid test, though, as he faces much sterner competition in the Withers. Still, I liked what I saw in that maiden win that followed a pair of mediocre performances to begin his career, which came in first a fast sprint and then on yielding turf. With a bit more early speed than a few others and the ability to finish strong, he is the top pick.


Bred to be a good one, this one sold for a cool million at the Keeneland September yearling sale of 2019. It remains to be seen if he will turn out to be worth the hefty investment, but he did take a significant step forward last time in his third career start. Sitting well off the pace in a one-mile maiden event at Aqueduct, he uncorked a big sweeping move to roll by and win going away. Now he needs to prove what he can do against stakes company, and there is good reason to wonder because in his second start he was absolutely no match against a strong pair of runners in Known Agenda and Greatest Honour. Still, I think the improvement shown last time was enough to believe he is getting good, and his late run should fit well in this race. He is a serious win contender.

Eagle Orb

The good news is that he was second last time to Capo Kane in the Jerome. Unfortunately for the stakes-winning New York-bred, it was a distant runner-up finish. Things will only get tougher on Saturday in both competitions and in distance. He has not yet looked like a horse who is loving the late stages of his two tries at one mile, so the 9 furlongs of the Withers is a real question mark. Overall, he is a nice horse, but I like others better.


This one comes in from Maryland, where he has run nothing but solid races in five starts at Laurel Park. A son of Shackleford, he has good tactical speed and also stakes experience, with a win and a third in his last two races. Despite that, the Withers looks to be a tough spot, with quality speed signed on and a bit farther than he’s ever run before. He looks like a horse who will win plenty of money in his career, but I don’t love him on Saturday.

Royal Number

Another one shipping in from Maryland, and, in fact, he faced Shackqueenking a few starts back. He couldn’t do better than third that day, but he came back with his best effort yet last time when he rolled from off the pace to a big win against allowance company. A consistent rallier, he should appreciate the 9 furlong trip on Saturday. With plenty of early speed in here, I believe he is a longshot who could rally into the underneath spots in the exotics.

Civil War

This son of Bodemiester broke his maiden at first asking, but it came against $40,000 claimers at Monmouth Park and in a sprint. In three subsequent tries, he’s failed to menace while facing stiffer competition in the first two of those. Last time he could not go on with his good early position in the slop. Moving back to graded stakes racing, he is hard to recommend.

Mr. Doda

Although he broke through with a maiden win last time, this one looks to be overmatched in here. The Florida-bred needed six tries to break that maiden, and it came against significantly cheaper going 5 ½ furlongs at Parx. At best, the former claimer adds to the early pace in this 9 furlong Grade 3.

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Brian Zipse

225 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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