Far From Over in Derby Hunt After Withers S. (G3) Win

February 7, 2015 – Far From Over recovered from a bad start to upset 1-2 favorite El Kabeir Feb. 7 in the $250,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack, closing much ground en route to his first graded score for owner Steven Marshall’s Black Rock Thoroughbreds (VIDEO).

Stumbling at the break from post 2, the 3-year-old son of Blame spotted five other 3-year-olds 7 1/2 lengths at the first call and 10 1/2 lengths after half a mile while Classy Class set the pace in :24.40 and :47.95. El Kabeir was engaged with that rival neck and neck as three quarters went in 1:12.01, and Far From Over still had a large distance to make up when the field turned for home.

Taking the rail trip, jockey Manuel Franco set the eventual winner down for the stretch drive and his mount found another gear. The duo shifted to the three path and swept past the battling pair of Classy Class and El Kabeir in a 1:37.56 mile, drawing ahead inside the final sixteenth to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

“He had a bad step coming out of the gate and the game plan changed after that,” said Franco, who with the Withers victory secured his first graded stakes score. “I just let him go however he wanted to go comfortable. At the three-eighths pole I picked it up and went for the lead. I thought I would be able to get there (and win).”

Far From Over was making just his second lifetime start after breaking his maiden by a game nose Dec. 12 at Aqueduct. The Withers, a prep race for the Twinspires.com Wood Memorial (gr. I), is worth 10 points to the winner on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Bred by Alexander, Groves, and Matz out of the A.P. Indy mare Alchemist, Far From Over was a $550,000 purchase by bloodstock agents Sallusto and Albina from the Gainesway consignment at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale.

“I thought we were in trouble when, coming out of the gate, he stumbled,” said Byron Hughes, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher. “But Manny did a great job relaxing on him and making his move at the right time. It was one big move at the end, and it was perfect.

“Ideally we were trying to sit right off the pace, hopefully, right there on the rail, but that didn’t happen. I saw they were going :48 and I thought that wasn’t fast enough. He had an awesome turn of foot and got up in time. In his first race he was on the lead, so we didn’t know, but Todd was saying he was training great in Florida.”

Far From Over completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.93 on a fast track to earn his second victory in as many starts for earnings of $186,000.

He returned $14.40, $4.20, and $2.60 at odds of 6-1, followed home by El Kabeir ($2.50, $2.10) and Classy Class ($2.40). Tencendur , March, and General Bellamy completed the order of finish. Unrivaled scratched.

John Terranova, trainer of Zayat Stables’ El Kabeir, said the two-time graded stakes winner had little excuse for his loss at first blush. With the Jerome Stakes (gr. III) and Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) under his girth, El Kabeir still tops the leaderboard on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) having picked up another four points via the runner-up Withers finish. He now has 25 points.

“It looks like he pulled up fine. It’s hard to say just yet. It looked like he had a great trip; sat in a perfect spot. He just got beat today,” Terranova remarked. “The winner is one of those young 3-year-olds coming up with one start; he’s bred to be any kind. It’s hard to say what the difference was, whether he ran his race or this horse outran him.

“Looking ahead, we’ll see how he comes out of this, talk it over with the Zayat family.”