Godolphin Racing's homebred Avery Island made a successful start to his 2018 season, finishing up strongly to win the G3 Withers by about two lengths over Firenze Fire and Marconi. Off at even money, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was hounded early by Coltsandmississippi, then shot to the lead around the far turn and never relinquished it. Ridden by Joe Bravo, the 3-year-old son of Street Sense got 1 1/8 miles over the fast main track at Aqueduct in 1:51.01.
“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 because it goes back to a mile.”
The win earned Avery Island an additional 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, moving him into sixth on the leaderboard.
Avery Island broke well from the fourth stall, but was out-sprinted by Coltsandmississippi to the first turn. Coltsandmississippi moved out to a one-length lead and took up position against the rail, forcing Avery Island out to the two-path down the backstretch through solid fractions of :23.35 and :46.67. In the early part of the race, there was a five-length gap back to Bal Harbour and Firenze Fire, with Marconi trailing. Those three began to close in on the frontrunners approaching the far turn.
Firenze Fire was up against the rail in third at the half-mile pole, and had to swing outside of both Coltsandmississippi and Avery Island in the final turn. Avery Island took command turning for home, and despite floating wide took a solid lead at the head of the lane. Firenze Fire was set down for the drive, as was the well-bred Marconi, but neither were able to cut into the leader's margin.
“The best horse won today,” Bravo said. “Avery has all the tools to be a good horse. He's just learning to enjoy himself out there. He just relaxed. He just got better and stronger going down the lane. I opened up early around the turn. The quicker he goes, the better he is, but I didn't want to turn it into a sprint, so if they are going to beat us, they're going to have to outrun us from the top. Today, he did it nicely.”
Avery Island was kept to task down the stretch and crossed the wire about two lengths in front of Firenze Fire. Marconi was just a half-length behind him in third.
“He got a good trip, saved ground, got inside and some had cover,” said jockey Trevor McCarthy, aboard Firenze Fire. “He got a little keen with me early. I would have rather had him sit back a little more and then made a move, but he was a bit on the muscle today. At the top of the stretch, he was in contact. The way the track was playing today was a bit speed-favoring, so I was happy where he was at the top of the stretch. He kicked well for me, but the other one [Avery Island] kicked harder.”
Bred in Kentucky by his owners, Avery Island is out of the winning A. P. Indy mare Kinda Spicy. He was seventh on debut, but broke his maiden in his second start and took down the G2 Nashua in his third. Overall, Avery Island's record stands at three wins from five starts with earnings of over $350,000.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2018 Paulick Report.