04/24/2010 12:00AM

Afleet Again scores 24-1 upset in Withers

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Afleet Again, under Abel Mariano, pays $51 to win and $46.60 to show in the Withers.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The presence of D' Funnybone scared away so many 3-year-olds from Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 at Aqueduct that it took three supplemental nominations just to fill the race.

When D' Funnybone failed to fire, it was one of the supplemental nominees that took advantage as 24-1 shot Afleet Again, under Abel Mariano, pulled a stunning upset, going past second-choice Ibboyee in deep stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths despite drifting out considerably. Ibboyee finished second by 4 1/4 lengths over Spangled Star, another supplemental nominee. D' Funnybone finished fourth followed by pacesetting Castaneda. Most Happy Fella, the third supplemental nominee, scratched.

D' Funnybone, the 1-2 favorite based on four Grade 2 stakes wins sprinting, was steadied early in the race and faded to fourth, which triggered some mammoth show payoffs. There was $299,932 wagered to show on D' Funnybone out of $332,287 in the pool. Afleet Again returned $51 to win and $46.60 to show. Ibboyee returned $3.90 to place but $10 to show and Spangled Star returned $54 to show.

The win was just the third from 10 starts for Afleet Again, who was coming off a last-place finish in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes here on March 6. Afleet Again is a son of 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex. However, Afleet Again will not get a chance to duplicate his sire's exploits because he is not Triple Crown nominated.

Trainer Butch Reid said he was pointing Afleet Again to the $50,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico next Saturday. But on Wednesday, he got a call from Andrew Byrnes, the stakes coordinator of the New York Racing Association, explaining how short the Withers field was going to be.

"Short field and I loved the one-turn mile,'' said Reid, who trains Afleet Again for Chuck Zacney's Cash is King Stable, which also owned Afleet Alex. "He's a big giant horse and I thought he'd like the big sweeping turns.''

On a track that was yielding the fastest times of the meet - and with a tailwind blowing at the horses' backs down the backside - the posted fractions of the Withers were ridiculous. Castaneda, under Jorge Chavez went the opening quarter in 21.60 seconds and the half in 43.82 while being chased by D' Funnybone. Afleet Again was only 3 1/2 lengths off the early lead after the half-mile.

Edgar Prado had to steady D' Funnybone a little more than an eighth of a mile into the race, when Castaneda drifted over on him. Prado was able to get D' Funnybone back into the race and into a stalking position outside of Castaneda. He gained a short lead in upper stretch, but tired badly.

"On the backside he shied a little bit from the horse coming in, he backed out of there,'' Prado said. "I let him [get] his rhythm back again; when I had a chance to get out of there I got off the rail and put him in a spot. He just didn't have that finish today. I think he's a better horse three quarters and seven eighths.''

Ibboyee, under John Velazquez, looked like a winner in midstretch, but Afleet Again, who was laboring in fourth at the three-sixteenths pole, re-rallied to get up. Alfeet Again covered the mile in 1:34.05.

"When it looks like there's one stick-out horse it makes a short field and you can get lucky,'' Reid said.