February 07, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) The well-named Far From Over made a remarkable recovery to win the $250,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday and move into contention for a Kentucky Derby spot.

It appeared to be over when Far From Over stumbled badly at the start. He lagged far behind the pack, seemingly running out the string in the Grade 3 race for 3-year-olds.

But Far From Over and jockey Manuel Franco refused to quit. Far From Over made a bold inside move on the final turn and angled off the fence in the deep stretch for a 1 3/4-length victory over 1-2 favorite El Kabeir. Classy Class was third.

''He had a bad step coming out of the gate,'' Franco said. ''The game plan changed after that. I just let him go however he wanted to go comfortably.''

It was Franco's first graded stakes victory.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Far From Over improved to 2 for 2 with both victories coming at Aqueduct. He won his debut on Dec. 12 before stepping up to capture his first stakes appearance.

The victory was worth 10 qualifying points toward a berth in the Derby on May 2. The Derby field is limited to the 20 horses with the highest point totals.

Coming into the race, El Kabeir was tied for the top spot with 21 points. He picked up four more points with the second-place finish but the race was a major letdown for the colt who impressively won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct in his previous two starts.

El Kabeir pressed the pace set by Classy Class but could never shake loose from that rival.

''It looked like he had a great trip,'' El Kabeir's trainer John Terranova said. ''He just got beat today.''

The time was 1:43.93 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast track.

Far From Over paid $14.40, $4.20 and $2.60. El Kabeir returned $2.50 and $2.10, and Classy Class paid $2.40 to show.

Far From Over earned $150,000 for Black Rock Thoroughbreds. He was a $550,000 yearling purchase at the Sept. 2013 Keeneland sales in Lexington, Kentucky.

Tencendur was fourth followed by March and General Bellamy.

In the earlier stakes, Salutos Amigos extended his Aqueduct stakes-winning streak to three with a come-from-behind victory in the $150,000 Toboggan for older sprinters.

The 3-5 favorite dropped back to last in the five-horse field before uncorking a strong stretch rally that carried the 5-year-old gelding to a 1 3/4-length victory over the pacesetting Dads Caps.

Salutos Amigos, 8 for 26 overall, started his stakes streak with the Fall Highweight on Thanksgiving Day, followed by the Gravesend on the day after Christmas for trainer David Jacobson.

Irad Ortiz Jr. was aboard as for his third straight victory to start the card. He finished with five wins on the day and rode third-place finisher Classy Class in the Withers.

Salutos Amigos paid $3.50 to win. The time was 1:09.53 for six furlongs.

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