Update: Frigid weather has prompted Aqueduct to cancel racing on Friday and Saturday. The Withers is postponed one week, to Feb. 11, with entries to be redrawn next Wednesday. 

Saturday’s $250,000 Withers (G3) is the second of four Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifiers at Aqueduct this year. Six three-year-olds are entered for the 1 1/8-mile race, which will award points on a 20-8-4-2-1 scale to the top five finishers as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

Here are three talking points for the Withers.

1. Hit Show to be well-fancied in stakes debut

Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Brad Cox had 11 horses listed as individual entrants in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager last month, including Hit Show, who will make his first stakes attempt following a 3 1/2-length allowance win at Oaklawn Park in mid-December.

By Candy Ride, Hit Show was re-routed to the Withers after being entered in last Saturday’s Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park, and the gray colt appears likely to go favored. Hit Show has captured 2-of-3 starts, and the late runner will add the services of Manny Franco.

2. Important test for Arctic Arrogance

Arctic Arrogance concluded 2022 with a half-length second in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct, and the New York-bred colt opened his sophomore campaign with a half-length second in the Jan. 7 Jerome S. at a one-turn mile. He’s firmly on the Kentucky Derby trail at this early date, but questions remain about his quality and effectiveness at longer distances.

The Withers may provide a better gauge. Trainer Linda Rice will add blinkers to the gray frontrunner, and Arctic Arrogance will be prominent from the start with Jose Lezcano.

3. Distance challenged?

The remaining four Withers entrants – Andiamo a Firenze, General Banker, Ninetyprcentmaddie, and Prove Right – all are at least stakes-placed, but none have won at a two-turn distance. The 1 1/8-mile distance looks like a legitimate challenge for the quartet.