Shotski seeks second straight stakes score in Withers

Eight three-year-olds will go postward in pursuit of precious Kentucky Derby points in Saturday’s Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. The Grade III, $250,000 event carries 17 points in all, divided 10-4-2-1 to the first through fourth-place finishers. Post time for the 1 1/8-mile Withers, the eighth of nine races on the program, is 4:25 p.m. ET.

#5 SHOTSKI (2-1, morning-line favorite) took Aqueduct’s Remsen Stakes in gate-to-wire fashion when last seen two months ago. It was a smart call by Luis Saez, who will fly in from Florida to maintain the assignment, to allow SHOTSKI to set a slow pace and avoid trouble like he encountered in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill two starts back. SHOTSKI has been working steadily at his home base of Laurel for his 2020 debut under trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer. SHOTSKI will prove tough in the Withers if he can replicate his Remsen performance.

#6 PRINCE OF PHAROAHS (8-1) was last seen running second to Independence Hall in the one-mile Jerome Stakes over this course on New Year’s Day. He faded in the stretch, but PRINCE OF PHAROAHS made an early move under Kendrick Carmouche that day. It would not be surprising if this son of American Pharoah acquits himself well at 1 1/8-miles on Saturday. Carmouche will be in the irons once more.

#8 PORTOS (3-1) needed four starts to break his maiden but when he finally graduated he did it in style at this course and distance, romping by 10 lengths. The Todd Pletcher trainee has had plenty of time to recuperate from that New Year’s Eve outing and has consistently run speed figures good enough to put him in the hunt for top honors in the Withers. Jose Lezcano, the meet’s leading rider, will have the call.

The play: $4 exacta 5/6,8, $2 exacta 6,8/5 ($12)

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