Risk Taking in the Withers as Candy Man’s a rocket in Tampa

Risk Taking and Candy Man Rocket galloped further down the Road to the Kentucky Derby with key victories on Saturday.

Two big 1 1/16th-mile stakes races with points on the line in the Road to the Kentucky Derby were completed on Saturday afternoon. The 141st running of the Withers Stakes took place at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York, while the 41st edition of the Sam F. Davis was run at Tampa Bay Downs. Both Grade 3 races awarded points on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

In the Withers, the post-time favorite was Risk Taking at 9/5 in the nine-horse field. Capo Kane at 3/1 took an early lead and set the pace for much of the race.

After falling back as far as sixth and ninth, respectively, Risk Taking and 9/1 shot Overtook made late surges to finish first and second. Capo Kane held on for third, followed by 10/1 Royal Number.

Risk Taking paid $5.80, $3.90 and $4.20, as well as picking up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Overtook paid $7.00 and $4.60 with four points, while Capo Kane paid $4.60 to show and added two Derby points. Royal Number finished out of the money but picked up one qualifying point

Candy Man's a Rocket in the Sam F. Davis Stakes

About 40 minutes following the Withers, 12 horses broke from the starting gate in the Sam F. Davis Stakes in Tampa. Known Agenda was the 3/2 favorite, followed by Candy Man Rocket at 3/1. Tiz Tact Toe was a late scratch from the original 13 horse field.

Candy Man Rocket hung just off the pace for most of the race as several horses traded the lead. As they made the turn for home, jockey Junior Alvarado cut the colt loose and Candy Man Rocket went to the front.

Nova Rags needed a photo finish to nose out Hidden Stash for second place, with both horses going off at 8/1.

Favorite Known Agenda was far off the early pace and was never a factor in the race. He rallied to finish in fifth place, out of the money, and missed out on picking up any more qualifying points.

Candy Man Rocket paid $8.20, $5.00 and $4.20 and garnered 10 points. Nova Rags paid $7.60 and $5.20 for the place finish and received four points.

Hidden Stash paid $4.60 and was awarded two points. Boca Boy at 19/1 finished in fourth place and got a point for his efforts.

Some of these same horses will be in the field next month for the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, where the winner will be awarded 50 Road to the Kentucky Derby points.

The Prep Series wraps up next week with the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on February 13 and the Southwest at Oaklawn Park on February 15. The first race in the Championship Series is also on February 13, the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.