Saturday's 127th renewal of the $150,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at a mile drew only four horses, so it will be carded as race three of 10 on the Aqueduct card. The other stakes race on Saturday, the Grade 3, $100,000 Beaugay for fillies and mares on turf has a larger field and will be run as race nine.
The favorite's role for the Withers will fall on either Luxembourg or Bernardini. Those two were supposed to meet in the third race on Wood Memorial Day, but a foot bruise forced Bernardini to scratch and Luxembourg cruised to an easy four-length win as the 4-5 favorite in the slop.
Buckram Oak Farm's Luxembourg has won his last two starts and is undefeated for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. The Wild Rush colt's only loss was his first and only start at 2 in Saratoga when trained by Ralph Ziadie.
"He's a class act," Dutrow said of Luxembourg. "I'd like to see him sit just off the lead, but since we drew the rail we might not have a choice. We're not going to take back. Hopefully the rail is the best part of the track and it's favoring speed."
Those looking to get a gauge on the strength of Luxembourg's win should watch Throng in Friday's third race. Throng was the runner-up to Luxembourg on Wood Memorial Day.
Trainer Tom Albertrani said he is pleased with how Bernardini has been training and that the foot bruise was never a major issue.
"We were going to run in an allowance Friday, but this race was coming up with a small field and we thought we'd take our chance in a stakes race," Albertrani said. "His foot was much better the day after the Wood and actually we didn't miss any training with him."
Bernardini was defeated going six furlongs in his first start, but showed improvement when stretched out to a mile and treated with anti-bleeder medicationfor his second race. The A.P. Indy colt contested the pace in his March 4th maiden victory before drawing off to win by 7 ¾ lengths.
Post position -- Horse, jockey, weight
1--Luxembourg, Edgar Prado, 116
2--Rob'em Blind, Eibar Coa, 116
3--Bernardini, Javier Castellano, 116
4--Doc Cheney, Channing Hill, 116