Withers Lengthy History as Derby Prep Rivals Few Others

Saturday’s $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct is one of the oldest stakes for 3-year-olds contested in the country. The race was named for New York businessman, horse owner, breeder, and one-time Monmouth Park owner David Dunham Withers, who owned the 1890 winner of the race, King Eric.

Road to the Derby: Withers Stakes and its Impact on Kentucky Derby Qualification

Belmont Park – Photo Courtesy of NYRA

First offered on the New York racing stakes calendar in 1874, the Withers has been run at five different tracks – Jerome Park, Morris Park, Jamaica Race Course, Belmont Park, and now Aqueduct. It wasn’t contested in 2011 but was brought back on the calendar for 2012 and has remained a staple as an early New York Kentucky Derby prep ever since.

Again this year, the race offers “Road to the Derby” points to make the gate for the Run for the Roses – 20-10-6-4-2 to the top finishers — which for at least the time being puts the winner squarely among the better candidates to make the starting gate in Louisville on May 4.

Historic Legacy: Withers Stakes Winners and Their Impact on Triple Crown Races

Overall the Withers has been a strong indicator for both next month’s Gotham Stakes (G3) and then the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2), but overall it hasn’t had much of an impact on any of the Triple Crown races recently, though historically boasts some famous names on the winners’ list. Aristides won the second running of the race in 1875 before wearing the roses, and other notable runners with their names in the history books as Withers winners are Duke of Magenta, Tyrant, Hanover, Domino, Colin, Sir Barton (Triple Crown winner), Man o’War, Blue Larkspur, Johnstown, Count Fleet (Triple Crown winner), Polynesian, Hill Prince, Native Dancer, Jaipur, Dr. Fager, Bold Reasoning, Key to the Mint, Housebuster, Dixie Brass, and Bernardini.

Once again the Withers will be contested at nine furlongs, up from the 8 ½ furlongs it was offered at for several years and still carries a $250,000 purse.

The nine-runner Withers is the afternoon’s 9th race with a post time of 3:55 p.m. ET.

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