There are two big prep races on Saturday on The Road to the Kentucky Derby. Both are 1 1/16 miles and award 10-4-2-1 qualifying points. The winners will immediately jump into the Kentucky Derby conversation with the 10 points.
Withers Stakes preview
The Withers Stakes takes place at Aqueduct Racetrack in the New York City borough of Queens. The Withers is the eighth race on Saturday and post time is 4:25pm Eastern. The race boasts a field of nine horses.
The early 5/2 favorite is Capo Kane, guided by jockey Dylan Davis. Capo Kane won the one-mile Jerome on New Year's Day at Aqueduct. The victory earned the colt 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points and means he is currently tied with eight other horses in the standings.
Donegal Bay has odds of 7/2 for the win in just his third career race but is coming off a victory in a one-mile outing on December 12 at Gulfstream Park. Aqueduct's top jockey, Kenneth Carmouche, will ride Donegal Bay. Carmouche's 26% winning rate and 44 top finishes leads all other riders at the track.
At 5/1 is Risk Taking, who reached the winner's circle on December 13 at Aqueduct after finishing well out of the money in his first two races. He'll have the benefit of another top jockey, Eric Cancel, who leads several riders in pursuit of Carmouche's record.
Overtook is another horse with 5/1 odds that won in their last outing, a December 20 victory over a mile at Aqueduct. That race had followed a third-place finish over nine furlongs on November 8, so there is promise for continued improvement. He's ridden by Manuel Franco, who is in third place in the Aqueduct jockey standings just behind Cancel.
Sam F. Davis Stakes preview
Farther south, Tampa Bay Downs hosts the Sam F. Davis Stakes, a local Grade 3 prep race for the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 6. The post time for the race is 5:05pm Eastern. Known Agenda at 6/1 is the only entry in the field with any Derby qualifying points with two.
The 3/1 favorite in the 13 horse field is Smiley Sobotka, who has been idle since a runner-up finish at the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 28. Jockey Daniel Centeno, a top-three rider at Tampa Bay Downs, will take the mount.
Nova Rags, with odds of 4/1, will be ridden by top track jockey Samy Camacho and is coming off a victory in the Pasco Stakes over the shorter distance of seven furlongs. It was the horse's second win in three outings, and a recent win over the same track could be an advantage.
The third favorite in the odds is Boca Boy, who hasn't run since a win in the Florida Sire in Reality Stakes at Gulfstream Park in September. This is his first race outside of Gulfstream, where he has a record of 4-2-2-1. The high spot is probably more to do with his talented jockey Antonio Gallardo.