Preakness Hopefuls Do Battle in Withers
Photo: Coglianese Photos
This Ones for Phil is the lone graded stakes winner in the Withers field.
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This Ones for Phil, Mr. Fantasy and Just a Coincidence — all on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) trail earlier this season — top a field of seven 3-year-olds in the $150,000 Withers (gr. III) April 25 at Aqueduct. The $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I) is now the primary goal for each of them.

The one-mile Withers, the feature of a 10-race program, is the final graded stakes of the Aqueduct meeting. Post time is set for 4:50 p.m. EDT.
Paul Pompa Jr. and partners’ This Ones for Phil will carry top weight of 123 pounds, giving five to seven pounds to his rivals based on his Swale Stakes (gr. II) victory March 28 at Gulfstream Park. He is the lone graded stakes winner in the field.
The son of Untuttable–Heaven’s Gate, by Septieme Ciel, hit the wire a half-length back of Big Drama in the Swale but was placed first through disqualification. The score, in which Big Drama set the seven-furlong track record, came one month after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) when he set the pace but tired badly in the stretch. The chestnut gelding was sent off as one of the favorites in the Fountain of Youth after he scored by 2 1/4 lengths in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash in January at Gulfstream while earning an incredible 115 Beyer speed figure, still the best number by any horse this season.
Trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., This Ones for Phil has already started 11 times. The Florida-bred has won four races and earned more than $325,000. Ramon Dominguez will get the mount for the first time and they will break from the rail.
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Mr. Fantasy turned many heads when devouring rivals in his first two starts. The New York-bred son of E Dubai   broke his maiden by 10 1/2 lengths in his debut in December and then won by more than eight lengths in a two-turn allowance event on Feb. 1 — both at Aqueduct. Mr. Fantasy, who is a late May foal, tried open company for the first time in the March 7 Gotham Stakes (gr. III). He set the pace for six furlongs before being overwhelmed by I Want Revenge  , who went on to romp by 8 1/2 lengths.
West Point president/founder Terry Finley and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin decided to pull Mr. Fantasy off the Derby trail not long after the Gotham. Since then, the bay colt has turned a series of solid works, including a four-furlong bullet move in :47.08 on April 10. Richard Migliore, aboard for the allowance score, will get the call once again.
“We opted to skip the Wood and give him a little time,” said McLaughlin. “He’s got speed inside and speed outside, but I like the No. 5 post. He’s pretty fast, but he doesn’t have to be on the lead.”
Robert LaPenta’s Just a Coincidence took six tries to break his maiden but has been very sharp since accomplishing that feat, which came Feb. 21 at Gulfstream Park. Less than three weeks later the son of Forestry   scored by almost two lengths in a one-mile allowance test, setting him up for the Wood Memorial (gr. I), where he ran a solid third to I Want Revenge after having a brief lead in upper stretch.
Cornelio Velasquez will have the return mount on Just a Coincidence, who is trained by Nick Zito.
A couple of others to watch for are Phipps Stable’s Gone Astray  , a romping allowance winner earlier this month at Aqueduct, and California shipper Supreme Summit, who is undefeated in two starts for trainer Doug O’Neill. This will be Supreme Summit’s first start on natural dirt.
“He’s an extremely talented colt, and we were elated about his first two starts,” said O’Neill. “We’ve had high hopes for this guy before he even made his debut. There’s a couple of big hurdles ahead of him. We have to see how he travels, and we’ll have to see how he handles the dirt. But if we are happy with what we see, the Preakness is something we might consider.”

$150,000 Withers (gr. III, Race 9, 4:50 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, One Mile (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. This Ones for Phil (FL), 123, Ramon A. Dominguez
2. Gone Astray   (KY), 116, Edgar S. Prado
3. Seal Team (FL), 118, Stewart Elliott
4. Supreme Summit (KY), 116, Eibar Coa
5. Mr. Fantasy (NY), 116, Richard Migliore
6. Everyday Heroes (KY), 118, Jose C. Caraballo
7. Just a Coincidence (KY), 116, Cornelio H. Velasquez

 

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