Samraat and Uncle Sigh, both New York-bred three-year-old colts, have yet to run against open company, but that is unlikely to dissuade bettors from actively backing the pair in Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Withers at Aqueduct. Contested at 1 1/16 miles on the inner dirt, the Withers has attracted a field of six and tops a four-stakes card at the Big A.
Samratt, who has led at every call of his three races, dominated his state-bred peers. After maiden and allowance victories by 3 1/2 lengths and 5 1/2 lengths, respectively, the son of Noble Causeway successfully stretched out in the $100,000 Damon Runyon on December 18, drawing off to an emphatic 16 3/4-length romp over one mile and 70 yards. The Rick Violette trainee has spent his time since at Palm Meadows, where he's turned a pair of one-mile works in recent weeks.
Uncle Sigh might be no less talented. After a narrow defeat by a head in his December 7 debut, the Indian Charlie colt next stretched out to one mile and 70 yards and promptly demolished maiden rivals, including next out winner Pax in Terra, by 14 1/2 lengths. He has turned in a pair of five-furlong bullet works for trainer Gary Contessa at Belmont Park since the maiden win.
"Honestly, I'm hoping somebody keeps Samraat honest," Contessa said. "If nobody else wants to go with him, I'll tell my rider to go out with him. I'm not looking at it as us having to beat one horse because we have to beat all the horses, but I'm not going to let Samraat get an easy lead this time."
With Jerome winner Noble Moon temporarily sidelined, the second- and third-place finishers from that January 4 test are back to improve on their performances a month ago. The multiple stakes-placed Classic Giacnroll, a clear second in that fixture, finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of the returning Scotland, the only maiden in the Withers field. Classic Giacnroll was previously third in the $100,000 Marylander at Laurel, while Scotland ran second in his first two attempts against maiden foes.
The Withers field is rounded out by Honorable Judge, a maiden and allowance winner at Parx who finished last in his only prior stakes try, and Street Gent, a maiden winner on December 1 going nine furlongs on Aqueduct's main track in his fourth career start.