Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby – The Grade 3 Withers Stakes – By Eric Solomon

This race was originally scheduled for last week, but icy cold temperatures and dangerous winds in New York caused Aqueduct to cancel last Saturday’s card and reschedule this Derby Points race for today. Last week, there were six runners entered, but when the race was re-drawn, it picked up a seventh entrant. 

Arctic Arrogance, who was the runner up in the Remsen and the Jerome Stakes, is back again in search of his first graded stakes victory. Brad Cox, who has several live contenders for this year’s Derby, shipped Hit Show up North from Oaklawn in order to compete in this nine furlong test. He appears to be the main danger to the favorite. Post time for this race is scheduled at 4:27 (ET)

Aqueduct Saturday 2/11/23, Race 9: The Grade 3 Withers Stakes

40 Total Derby points (20/8/6/4/2)

1 – Arctic Arrogance (8-5 ML, 200-1 Circa): This son of Frosted will start for the 6th time this afternoon. He’s never finished worse than 2nd, winning the Sleepy Hollow Stakes in October and earning runner up honors in the Betram F. Bongard, Remsen, and Jerome Stakes. He ran a big race in the slop when going this distance in the Remsen, in a race where he had everything his own way. There’s more speed signed in this race, and I’m wondering if he’ll have to face more pace pressure than he’s seen before. His consistency makes him hard to exclude, but there doesn’t appear to be much value in playing him to win. 

2 – Prove Right (30-1 ML): He’s a Justify colt making his 12th career start fore James Chapman. He ran okay in a sprint at Laurel two back when he was able to clear the N1X condition. He tried this kind of level in the Remsen and was soundly defeated. I don’t think he’s interested in going this far. He’s not for me. 

3 – Jungfrau (4-1 ML, 175-1 Circa): Bill Mott has had a good few weeks, winning the Pegasus World Cup two weeks ago and then finishing first and second with his two entrants in the Holy Bull Stakes last weekend. He brings this Juddmonte homebred back to New York after a maiden breaking effort via disqualification at the end of December at Gulfstream. The dam never won and her other foals to race have been underwhelming. 4-1 feels like too short of a number for me to take on this one. 

4 – Hit Show (9-5 ML, 150-1 Circa): Brad Cox originally entered him in the Southwest Stakes two weeks ago at Oaklawn, however, he opted to run two other runners in that race, when facing off against Arabian Knight, who has become the Derby Future Book favorite at both Caesars and Circa. He was late getting here last week, so the additional week off should be welcomed. I think there’s some cheap speed that could make life difficult for Arctic Arrogance. If that scenario plays out, he’d be the likely benefactor. I see him as the one to beat in this race. 

5 – General Banker (8-1 ML, 275-1 Circa): He was seven lengths behind Arctic Arrogance in the Jerome last month and much farther behind him in the Bertram F. Bongard back in September. He has been improving of late, but he’s a runner that has a pedigree that suggests he’d be better suited for a one turn race. He was going the wrong direction in the final furlong of the Jerome and I don’t see him improving when going nine furlongs. 

6 – Ninetyprcentmaddie (8-1 ML): This Pennsylvania bred invader from Parx won his first three career starts, all while sprinting in Bensalem. He was 4th in the PA Nursery with state bred foes in November and second with open company in the Parx Juvenile. He’ll stretch out from seven furlongs to nine furlongs for the first time. He continues to improve from a speed figure perspective, which is also a plus here. While I’d prefer to see a middle distance race slotted in between, I do think he’s the most likely longshot to have an impact in the outcome of this race. 

7 – Andiamo a Firenze (12-1 ML, 350-1 Circa): He’s another runner coming out of the Jerome Stakes last month, and he was tiring badly in the final stages of that one. He’ll try two turns for the first time today, which feels like a major stretch when looking at his pedigree. He’s a half to multiple graded stakes winning sprinter, Firenze Fire. That one was second in this race, however, I don’t see him as a runner that’s crying out for longer races. 

The Verdict: 4-1-6



I see this as the more formful of the two Derby Prep races this weekend. Hit Show (#4) should get a nice set up, while letting the cheaper speed horses carve out the fractions on the front end. Manny Franco, who had committed to ride this one in Arkansas, will get the assignment for his local debut. 

Arctic Arrogance continues to roll along in the local Derby Prep Race series, making his third consecutive start in a Derby Points race on this oval. I do see the possibility of there being more early speed to contend with than what he’s been used to. That could be his undoing in this spot, especially on a dry track. 

In my eyes, Ninetyprcentmaddie is the most appealing of the longer priced runners. The speed figures are trending in the right direction. Parx horses are often overlooked on this oval, but I Butch Reid only comes here if he feels like his horses have a shot. 


We’ll have coverage of every North American Derby Points Race, along with plenty of coverage leading up to the 149th Kentucky Derby on May 6th, 2023. Current futures odds from Circa or Caesars-William Hill will be provided as they are available. Feel free to reach out on Twitter @EricSolomon718.


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  • great swlwctions. I had already played the 416 tri str. and box. It looks like Amos is gonna try to get Hossier Pkilly into the Derby. Horse is listed in KDF Bet. Any comment?

    • Hey Ron, thank you! Good luck today!

      While I don’t think her figures stack up with the upper echelon of this year’s class, I’d love to see Hoosier Philly take a shot in a Derby Prep race. We saw last year that the only way to you have a chance to win the Derby is to be in the race. Once they’re in, anything can happen!

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