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Samraat wins Aqueduct's Withers Stakes

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.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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Mike Dempsey Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup.
The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes.

Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

Mike also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.

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Jerry Sessa Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.
Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.

In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.

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