Gotham’s One-Turn Mile May Be The Best Spot For Withers Runner Up Shotski

Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, Pantofel Stable and Mike Karty’s Shotski earned an 82 Beyer for his runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Withers.

Trained by Jeremiah O’Dwyer, the bay son of Blame was a convincing winner of the Grade 2 Remsen at nine furlongs on December 7 at the Big A and was brave down the lane on Saturday after setting a pressured pace in the Withers.

O’Dwyer said Shotski was in fine fettle on Sunday.

“He came out of the race good. I’m very happy with him and we’ll give him a couple of easy days before heading back to the track,” said O’Dwyer.

O’Dwyer said both the Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth, a 1 1/16-mile test on February 29 at Gulfstream Park are under consideration for Shotski’s next start.

“I spoke with Mr. Wachtel and he mentioned the Gotham and maybe the Fountain of Youth. There’s a couple options in the pipeline,” said O’Dwyer. “We’ll let the dust settle and make a plan over the next couple of days.”

After a pair of nine-furlong efforts, O’Dwyer said a cutback to a one-turn mile for the Gotham could suit Shotski.

“I think he’ll be fine over a mile. He ran well going a one-turn mile at Churchill,” said O’Dwyer, noting Shotski’s strong fourth in the Street Sense on October 27. “He has the speed to be up there with them tactically. We’ll nominate him to a few things and try to pick a spot where he has the best chance of winning.”

Trainer Michael Pino said Daniel Ryan’s Vanzzy was in good order on Sunday morning after being eased to the wire in the Grade 3 Withers.

Vanzzy, who entered the Withers off a half-length score in the Display at Woodbine, was sitting second on the flank of Shotski through three-quarters of a mile in the Withers. The Verrazzano colt was moving well through the final turn when New Commission made a move his outside and suddenly Vanzzy began to drop back under wraps by Junior Alvarado.

“He cooled out good, scoped good and jogged on down the road good,” said Pino. “He’s fine this morning. The jockey said he felt a bit of a short stride and grabbed him.

“He’s a funny horse. When that horse came outside him, he might have come out of the bit and his stride felt funny so he grabbed him,” continued Pino. “But, at one point, I thought we were looking good. He seemed very comfortable.”

Vanzzy, bred in Kentucky by Alexander-Groves Thoroughbreds, made his first three starts at his Parx base, debuting in September in a strong maiden tilt won by the undefeated graded-stakes winner Independence Hall. He graduated at second asking in a one-mile maiden event on October 14 and was second in the Parx Juvenile to Mischevious Alex, a seven-length winner of Saturday’s Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park.

Pino said he will take a wait-and-see approach with Vanzzy before contemplating a next start.

“The main thing is to see that he is good in his training and right now I’m confident that he is,” said Pino. “For now, I’m just trying to get over the whole deal. It’s not an easy game.”

Pino saddled Shadwell Stable’s Ashraq to a half-length score over Withers winner Max Player on November 12 in a one-mile main track event at Parx, but the Medaglia d’Oro ridgling was off-the-board in the Central Park last out over 1 1/16-miles of yielding Big A turf.

“He was doing good but we had to give him a little break and he’s back in training now,” said Pino. “He’s a really talented horse. I’m thinking grass for him. We’ll give him some time and likely see him back in a couple months.”

Mr. Shortandsimple is doing well the day after being eased in the Grade 3 Withers, owner and trainer Rudy Rodriguez said Sunday morning.

Making his first stakes appearance in his sixth career start, and first around two turns on the main track in the 1 1/8-mile route, Reylu Gutierrez eased him before the wire; a move Rodriguez said was precautionary.

“He looks good. Reylu said he got pretty tired and he was trying to protect him,” Rodriguez said. “But he came back good and looked good this morning. Probably the distance was a little too much for him right now.”

A winner of two of his first four starts, Mr. Shortandsimple was victorious in his previous start to the Withers, edging Money Ride by a nose in a one-mile claiming race on December 30 at Aqueduct. Rodriguez said the son of Pioneerof the Nile does not have a next spot picked out.

“I’ll take it day-by-day right now,” he said.

Salerno Stables’ War Stopper, initially considered a possibility for the Withers, will train up to the Grade 3 Gotham. The Declaration of War colt registered a maiden-breaking victory at fourth asking on January 11 at Aqueduct and continues to work towards his stakes debut, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.36 on the Belmont Park dirt training track on Thursday.

“So far, that’s the plan,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll continue to see how he’s doing and make the best decision for us. He had a pretty good work in and continues to train very good. We’re hoping he keeps improving and we’ll take it from there.”

War Stopper, who finished out of the money on turf in his first two starts, ran fifth his in main track debut at one mile at the Big A on December 7. Making his 3-year-old debut, he rebounded to lead a six-horse field gate-to-wire for a four-length score at one mile earlier this month, earning a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

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