2017 Kentucky Derby Preps: Withers Stakes and RB Lewis Stakes 2/4/2017

There are three Kentucky Derby preps today as well as the 7-furlong Swale Stakes-G2. We’ll stick with two of the longer Derby preps for now, the Withers Stakes-G3 at Aqueduct and the R B Lewis-G3 at Santa Anita, but will be watching the Swale Stakes and the Holy Bull-G2 at Gulfstream for quality.

R B Lewis Stakes-G3, Santa Anita, Race 2, Saturday, February 4, 2017

Selections: 1. Term of Art 2. Royal Mo 3. Sheer Flattery

The $150,000 R B Lewis-G3 goes as the second race at Santa Anita and looks like it could produce a medium priced winner. Royal Mo is the dominant speed but he could get pushed by either Irap or Dangerfield, which would set the race up for Term of Art or favourite Sheer Flattery.

If Royal Mo gest the lead by himself he could prove tough to beat, but surely they’re not going to let him get away with that. If a pressured pace develops Term of Art and Sheer Flattery should come rallying late. Flattery won his last at Santa Anita, but that race was in the slop so the performance is tough to decipher, and Term of Art’s odds should be more enticing regardless.

Term of Art has already shown some fight in his races and he his likely to be overlooked on the tote board based on his most recent poor performance in the Sham Stakes-G3 in the slop. It should be noted however, that Term of Art did work very slowly for this race, in sharp contrast to his stablemate Dangerfield, who worked a bullet six furlongs. Dangerfield has already been well beaten by three of today’s rivals, but he is fresh and could come out firing and hopefully pushing Royal Mo.

Term of Art gets blinkers off for this, a 21% angle for trainer David O’ Neill, and the price will be right despite the short field.

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Withers Stakes-G3, Aqueduct, Race 8, Saturday, February 4, 2017

Selections: 1. El Areeb 2. Apartfromthecrowd 3. Fillet of Soul 4. Small Bear

The $250,000 Withers Stakes-G3 at Aqueduct goes as the eighth and it is favourite El Areeb’s race to lose.

El Areeb won the Jerome-G3 over a muddy track at Aqueduct by 11 1/4-lengths and looked like a winner all the way around. In his race previous to that he won the $100,000 J F Lewis Stakes by 5 1/4-lengths. In both of his previous races, El Areeb has looked dominant. Additionally, he has has speed, and there isn’t a lot of that in this year’s Withers, but he also doesn’t need the lead to win.

J Boys Echo seems to be attracting interest, but after watching the replay of his fourth place finish in the Delta Downs Jackpot-G3, we’re not getting it. Sure he missed third by less than a length but he still looked very average in the stretch and we’re not biting.

We’d rather take a shot on a horse like Apartfromthecrowd, trained Chad Brown and getting a rider switch to Irad Ortiz. He was rank early and steadying in his last while along the rail, and never really started to run until the last sixteenth of a mile, when he drew off to break his maiden by four lengths. He should have learned something from that race and can improve, the problem is, El Areeb looks too good. Exactor play.

We’ll throw in Fillet of Soul and Small Bear as longshots in the exactors, trifectas and supers. Fillet of Soul looked decent rallying to win his last, as did Small Bear, who also looks like he has some fight in him.

Good Luck!