Godolphin’s Avery Island triumphed with the minimum of fuss in the G3 Withers Stakes over nine furlongs on dirt at Aqueduct, USA, on Saturday, 3 February and is being aimed at the G1 Kentucky Derby (G1, May 5, 10f, Churchill Downs).
The three-year-old Street Sense colt pleased both trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and regular jockey Joe Bravo on his first appearance of the year.
Avery Island broke well in the five-runner race and soon led before being settled in second. He regained the advantage three furlongs out, went a couple of lengths clear turning in and ran on in the straight to succeed by two lengths, despite being eased close home, from Firenze Fire who had tried to throw down a challenge along with the third Marconi, another half-length back.
The winning time came to 1m 51.01s on a track described as fast and Avery Island now has 14 Kentucky Derby points, which could be important in securing his starting place in America’s most famous race.
Kiaran McLaughin commented: “It was a great win with Avery Island and we are on the road to the first Saturday in May for the Kentucky Derby with him.”
Jose Bravo added: “The best horse won today and he has overcome a lot. It was shame he got beat in his previous start, but he learned plenty and it really helped us out today.
“He has always been the most gorgeous horse – he is just beautiful. He is just learning to enjoy the game – he knows it is a horserace and when he turns for home and then gets to the eighth pole it is a special feeling.”
Avery Island has now succeeded in three of his five races, with his biggest victory having come in the G2 Nashua Stakes over mile on dirt at Aqueduct on 5 November.