NEW YORK (AP) - Samraat remained undefeated with a hard fought victory over Uncle Sigh on Saturday in the $250,000 Withers Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct.
The colt trained by Rick Violette improved to 4 for 4 with the one-length win. He also picked up 10 qualifying points toward a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Samraat cruised to easy victories in the three prior races, all against New York breds. Tackling open company for the first time, Samraat faced an equally determined foe in Uncle Sigh.
Breaking from the rail, Uncle Sigh jumped out to the early lead and Samraat, with Jose Ortiz aboard, went right with him. Uncle Sigh held a slight advantage until midway on the final turn as Samraat relentlessly pressing the pace on his flank.
From that point, it was a head-to-head battle until Samraat edged clear in deep stretch.
''This was a tough race,'' Violette said. ''You've got to have a tough race before you get to the bigger races. They have to learn how to fight.''
Violette listed three possible stakes for Samraat's next assignment, including two at Aqueduct: the $500,000 Gotham on March 1 or the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 5. The $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 29 is also under consideration.
The time was 1:46.31 for the 1 1-16 miles on the fast track.
Samraat paid $4.30, $2.50 and $2.10 and Uncle Sigh returned $2.60 and $2.20. Both were even-money choices on the tote board.
There was a 10 1/2 length gap from Uncle Sigh back to third-place finisher Scotland who paid $3.10.
The other stakes results on the undercard saw the trio of winners extend their winning streaks to three.
Candyman E took the $150,000 Toboggan with Chuckie Lopez aboard for trainer David Jacobson. The 7-year-old gelding improved to 10 for 21, paying $7.10 to win.
Joint Return captured the $100,000 Busher for 3-year-old fillies. Kendrick Carmouche rode for trainer John Servis as Joint Return earned 10 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks with a $16.80 upset.
Lopez rode a second stakes winner as Lion D N A took the $100,000 Correction for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old gave trainer Rudy Rodriguez a third win on the card. She paid $6.40 to win.
Jockey David Cohen will be sidelined an estimated two months with a broken right leg suffered when a mount in an earlier race kicked him in the paddock.