Winner of the January 2 Jerome (G3), Flexibility will seek his second straight victory over Aqueduct’s inner track in Saturday’s $250,000 Withers (G3). The 1 1/16-mile race is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, offering points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.
Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. will be in from Florida for the mount and Flexibility has been installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite among seven 3-year-olds. The Chad Brown-trained colt currently ranks fifth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, garnering 2 points for his runner-up finish in the November 28 Remsen (G2) and 10 points for the Jerome, and with a Withers victory, Flexibility would move into sole possession of second.
By 2006 Kentucky Derby runner-up Bluegrass Cat, the New York-bred Flexibility captured his career debut over state-bred maiden special weight foes at Belmont Park on October 10. The bay colt jumped straight to open stakes company, finishing second in the November 4 Nashua (G2) before filling the same position in the Remsen, both races coming on the Aqueduct main track.
In the Jerome, Flexibility rolled to a 4 ¼-length victory as the heavy favorite and flattered the well-regarded Mohaymen, who captured both the Nashua and Remsen and rates as a top contender in Saturday’s Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream.
Sunny Ridge will be a new challenger in the Withers and is listed as the early 5-2 second choice. Runner-up in the Champagne (G1) two back, the gray Holy Bull gelding exits a neck second to Exaggerator in the November 21 Delta Jackpot (G3). Sunny Ridge will make his first start of 2016 for John Servis, trainer of 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, and Manny Franco picks up the mount.
Jerome runner-up Vorticity will return for the Withers along with Donegal Moon, who never got a chance to compete after stumbling at the start and dislodging his jockey. King Kranz will make his first attempt at two turns following a nice win in the 6-furlong Lost in the Fog on New Year’s Day, and impressive maiden winner Adventist will be making his stakes debut. Cards of Stone, who exits a runner-up finish in a restricted allowance, rounds out the field.
Flexibility photo by NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography