Avery Island tracked a longshot pacesetter to the far turn, seized command, and safely held off two pursuers through the stretch to take Saturday's $245,000 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct.
A homebred racing for Godolphin, Avery Island scored by two lengths under Joe Bravo for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. He paid $4.30 as the favorite and covered 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:51.01.
Avery Island earned 10 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points, boosting his total to 14 points. He had previously earned four points for his second-place finish in the Remsen (G2) in early December.
"It looked like he was push button, so it was great that he switched off that quick and then switch back on," McLaughlin said. "We're not sure what we're going to do for the next race. I'll talk to Jimmy Bell with Godolphin and figure it out, but we're not looking at the Gotham (G3) because it goes back to a mile."
Adding four points to his pre-race total of 20 was Firenze Fire, the Champagne (G1) and Jerome winner. He out-finished the stakes-debuting Marconi for the place by a half-length. It was nearly 19 lengths back to the front-running Coltandmississippi, with Bal Harbour the trailer in the field of five.
This was the second stakes win for Avery Island, who previously landed the one-mile Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct in early November. Seventh in his debut at Saratoga, he preceded the Nashua with a 5 1/4-length maiden win at Belmont Park going 1 1/16 miles. He's now earned $365,332.
By 2007 Kentucky Derby winner and champion Street Sense, Avery Island was bred in Kentucky and is out of Kinda Spicy, a daughter of A.P. Indy and Chilean champion Isola Piu Bella.
(Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)