Repole Stable’s 3-year-old How Do I Win, pointing to the $200,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Feb. 4, breezed a half-mile in :49 flat over Belmont Park’s training track Jan. 29.
Most recently fourth behind Godolphin's Alpha in the Count Fleet Stakes Jan. 7, the gray son of Corinthian is 2-0-1 from six starts. He closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a victory in a maiden claiming race and a starter allowance.
“He’s been kind of inconsistent in the afternoons, as you can tell from the past performances, but when he puts everything together I think he’ll live up to expectations,” said trainer Todd Pletcher via telephone. “In his last race, the jockey took too much hold of him, and he’s more of a free-running horse.”
Pletcher will be going for his second training victory in the 1 1/16-mile Withers, having won the 2008 edition with another gray, Harlem Rocker.
Elsewhere, the Kiaran McLaughlin stable reported that Alpha is scheduled to breeze on the morning of Jan. 29 at Aqueduct in preparation for the Withers.
The Withers is the next step in The New York Racing Association’s series for Classic-minded 3-year-olds. It is followed by the $400,000 Gotham (gr. II) March 3 and the $1 million Resorts World New York City Casino Wood Memorial (gr. I) April 7.
“The thought is (to run in) all of them,” said assistant trainer Artie Magnuson. “We could skip one if we want, but the thought is to just do all four. The Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is very important, but this series is very important. These aren’t preps, these are important races, so we’re treating them that way.
"We take the Withers very seriously, and the Gotham. We’ve won a stake and that’s nice, and this is graded, that’s important, everything’s very important. Apha needs to show up, needs to run, but we couldn’t be happier with him now.”
At age 2, the son of Bernardini was a six-length maiden winner at Saratoga. He finished second to Union Rags in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park and concluded 2011 with an 11th-place effort in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) after acting up in the gate.
“He stood in the gate today, between two horses, very well,” said Magnuson Jan. 29. “It’s something we will continue to do.”
In the Count Fleet, Alpha stalked the leaders in third under Ramon Dominguez, dueled briefly with pacesetter Il Villano at the top of the lane, and then methodically inched clear for a 2 1/2–length win. He covered one mile and 70 yards on the fast inner track in 1:42.83.