Richly Blended rebounded from a third-place finish behind Kentucky Derby runners Congaree and Monarchos in last month's Wood Memorial (gr. II) to win the one-mile, $150,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) by 4 1/4 lengths Saturday at Aqueduct. With the win, Richly Blended remains undefeated in races contested at one mile or less.
Under jockey Rick Wilson, Richly Blended dueled with Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) winner Skip to the Stone through fast opening fractions before pulling away in the stretch for the impressive win. On a fast track, Richly Blended stopped the timer in 1:35.66.
Richly Blended led by a head after a quarter-mile in :23.02, before the top pair quickened in the next quarter. After a half-mile in :45.09, Skip to the Stone had his head in front on the inside of Richly Blended. After that it was all Richly Blended, who opened up by nearly six lengths in the stretch en route to the win.
"It was another super effort from him," said Wilson. "He does what he has to do to get the job done. He handled the pace pressure pretty well and kicked clear pretty easily. He didn't switch leads until a few jumps before the wire, but I knew he had a clear lead and I didn't want to fight him."
New York-bred Le Grande Danseur finished second, a half-length ahead of Telescam. Sam Lord's Castle, Regal Shivers, Tour of the Cat, and Skip to the Stone completed the order of finish.
Raymond Dweck's Richly Blended won his first three races – including the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) – by a combined margin of 28 lengths before finishing nearly ten lengths back in the Wood. Trained by Ben Perkins Jr., Richly Blended (Rizzi -- Valid Blend, by Valid Appeal) earned $90,000 for the win. The 3-year-old was bred in Florida by Mockingbird Farm.
"We're happy with his performance," Perkins said. "Rick (Wilson) said he relaxed really nice and when he asked him to go he was there. Hopefully, we can keep him going. He seems to run real well here. We'll speak to Mr. Dweck about the Preakness and about the Met Mile and see what he wants to do."
Richly Blended paid $3.80, $3, and $2.20 and keyed an exacta worth $21. Le Grande Danseur paid $5.30 and $2.80. Telescam paid $2.80 to show.