My Meadowview Farm’s Samraat was able to hold off Uncle Sigh by a length in an exciting stretch-run to take the $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct on Saturday. Both horses entered the race as the nearly even-money co-favorites. Uncle Sigh got out to the early lead, setting modest splits of :24, :48.33 and 1:12.77 before Samraat was able to draw clear in the stretch, crossing the wire in a final time of 1:46:33 for the 1 1/16-mile contest on the fast dirt. Scotland was able to get up for third with Classic Giacnroll finishing fourth.
Samraat holds off Uncle Sigh to take Withers (ESPN.com/Bloodhorse photo)
Ridden by Jose Ortiz for trainer Richard Violette, Jr., Samraat is undefeated through four starts, the first coming as a maiden win at Belmont, then an allowance at Aqueduct, followed by a 16 3/4-length romp in the Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct before taking the Withers. He now has earnings of $283,200. Samraat now has 10 points on the Road to #KYD14, both Uncle Sigh and Scotland have now four points and Classic Giacnroll has five. Classic Giacnroll earned four points prior to the Withers with a second-place finish in the January 4-Jerome Stakes, and Scotland had earned two points earlier by finishing third in the Jerome.
“My horse broke really good, I tried to go out and get the lead,” Ortiz told NYRA.com. “By the half mile I had a lot of horse but [Uncle Sigh] was used already. He ran a big race.”
“At the quarter pole I thought I had a little more horse; I thought I was going to pass him,” Ortiz added. “My horse didn’t pick it up the way I thought he was going to, but he came through.”
Trainer Richard (Rick) Violetter, Jr. (DRF.com Photo)
“It was a long drive,” said winning trainer Rick Violette. “[Uncle Sigh] was kind of tested in his first race. We haven’t been. We left the rest of the field. As fast as we went early, it wasn’t like all of a sudden somebody from out of the clouds was going to get there. Hats off to both horses. They ran a huge, huge race today, and I think they’ll show up later in the year.”
“This was a tough race,” Violette added. “We might wait for the Wood Memorial [Grade 1, $1 million, April 5]. We’re in a good spot now. If he’s kind of kicking the walls down he can certainly come back for the Gotham [Grade 3, $500,000, March 1] or we can wait for the Wood or the Louisiana Derby [Grade 2, $1 million, March 29]. There are a lot of options.”