Flexibility heads seven-horse Withers; Toboggan redrawn with 10

Profile Picture: James Scully

January 27th, 2016

After posting a convincing 4 ¼-length victory in the January 2 Jerome (G3), Flexibility will attempt to carry his form forward over Aqueduct’s inner track in Saturday’s $250,000 Withers (G3). The Chad Brown-trained colt figures to be an overwhelming favorite against six rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race, which serves as a Kentucky Derby qualifier offering points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.

A New York-bred son of Bluegrass Cat, Flexibility opened his racing career with a facile tally versus state-bred maiden foes at Belmont Park in mid-October. The $185,000 2-year-old in training purchase jumped straight to open stakes company with a runner-up in the November 4 Nashua (G2) and filled the same position in the November 28 Remsen (G2), finishing behind the well-regarded Mohaymen both times on Aqueduct’s main track.

Flexibility, who earned a 100 BRIS Speed rating in the Remsen, posted only a 92 in the Jerome but the ease of victory was easy to appreciate. Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. will bypass a stakes-packed Saturday card at Gulfstream Park to keep the mount on the highly-promising sophomore.

Jerome runner-up Vorticity will test Flexibility once again along with Donegal Moon, who lost all chance when stumbling at the start and dislodging his jockey. However, handicappers will be tempted to look elsewhere if trying to beat Flexibility.

Sunny Ridge offers some appeal in his 2016 bow. Winner of the Sapling at Monmouth Park in early September, the Jason Servis trainee followed with a non-threatening second in the Champagne (G1) before capping his juvenile season with an excellent neck second to Exaggerator in the Delta Jackpot (G3). By Holy Bull, the gray gelding will receive a rider switch to Manny Franco.

Adventist turned heads with an 11-length maiden special weight romp going six furlongs on the inner oval on December 19 and will receive a stiff class check in his second start. Kendrick Carmouche rides the Leah Gyarmati-trained son of Any Given Saturday. King Kranz exits a good-looking win in the six-furlong Lost in the Fog on New Year’s Day and will try two turns for the first time. The Munnings colt will keep Cornelio Velasquez. Cards of Stone, a maiden winner making his first start against open rivals, rounds out the field.

Saturday’s program also features the $150,000 Toboggan (G3). Originally scheduled for last Sunday, the six-furlong event was rescheduled after Aqueduct was forced to cancel due to the snowstorm. The nine original entrants were all re-entered along with stakes debuter Sassicaia.

Green Gatto is the horse to beat. The 6-year-old has been overlooked in his last two starts, posting a 24-1 upset in the Fall Highweight (G3) before dominating a five-horse Gravesend field on the front end at 4-1 odds, but the in-form speedster should receive plenty of respect from bettors on Saturday. Carmouche retains the mount for conditioner Gaston Grant.

Dads Caps is also a top contender. Winner of the last two editions of the Carter H. (G1), the 6-year-old will be making his first appearance since a third in the True North (G2) last June. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez, an overall 19% trainer, wins at only a 13% clip off an extended layoff but Dads Caps remains a logical threat if ready to go off the shelf with Jose Ortiz.

Flexibility photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese Photography