Monthir, Warners Duel in Withers

The Withers (gr.III) for 3-year-olds at one mile is the $150,000 feature on Derby Day at Aqueduct.

Monthir, who split horses gamely in the seven furlong Bay Shore (gr.III) to finish third three weeks ago on this oval, will be sent out in search of his first black-type victory by trainer Mark Hennig. The trainer, who again envisions a stalking tip for the bay son of Gulch, praised his colt's consistency. Yet Hennig admits that Monthir needs to develop a "killer instinct" to be a top-class 3-year-old.

"He's close enough, but he doesn't win," noted Hennig. How can Monthir develop that instinct to finish off his rivals? "Maturity will take care of that," said Hennig. "He's starting to get a little more aggressive."

Warners, who finished second in the Bay Shore, a head in front of Monthir, will also be looking for his first stakes win. The son of Dehere was bumped rudely at the start of the Bay Shore, and rushed up to the leaders through a bullet opening quarter-mile of :21.4. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt raced three-wide, and assumed the lead by a length turning for home before succumbing to the winner, Roman Dancer, in the lane.

The New York-bred Lord of the Thunder will be taking a major step up in class for the Paraneck Stable and trainer Joe Aquilino. The Saint Ballado colt returned from a two-month absence after a sensational allowance win to finish second to the improving Personable Pete at seven furlongs in open company.

Tuesday, Aquilino timed Lord of the Thunder in 1:02.1 through a five-furlong work. "He finished good," said Aquilino, who noted the exercise rider reported that the colt "felt super."

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