The massive weekend of Triple Crown prep action includes the $750,000 Grade 2 Wood Memorial.
The mile and an eighth event run over the Aqueduct dirt offers 175 qualifying points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” leaderboard with 100 going to the victor.
The featured event on the 11-race card drew a field of 9 led by Grade 3 Gotham Stakes winner #5 Enticed. The son of Medaglia d’Oro was extremely impressive in that last victory earning a 104 BRIS speed rating for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The question is whether he can be as dominant as the distances get longer.
With not a ton of speed signed on jockey Junior Alvarado should be able to find a nice stalking spot a few lengths off of likely pacesetter #4 Old Time Revival. If he is able to avoid regression off of the career best effort less than a month ago and take to the mile and an eighth he will beat this group. However, given those two concerns I will take my shot against the 6-5-morning line favorite.
Old Time Revival dueled early, took the lead before the far turn, but could not hold off the run of Enticed at odds of 35 to 1 in the Gotham. He looks to be lone speed on the stretch out to nine panels for trainer Kenneth Decker, but I have serious worries about his ability to get the extra distance. However, unlike Enticed at least the price is right at 6 to 1 to gamble on him to take them gate to wire.
The horse I am most interested in is #8 Restoring Hope. This son of Giant’s Causeway ships in from Southern California for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. This Gary and Mary West owned colt has gotten lost in the shuffle with all of the talent Baffert possesses, but in the winter was considered one of the more talented three-year-olds in the barn.
Baffert brings Restoring Hope in off of just one win, but it was a good looking effort that earned him a 92 BRIS speed rating at odds of 4 to 5. There is little question that two turns is his game and he should get the right trip under jockey Flavian Prat. I will need at least 7 to 2 to gamble on him in this group, but I like the idea of betting on the horse I think is best going a route of ground and not swallowing chalk.
#2 Firenze Fire disappointed as my top choice in the Gotham. He will try two turns, but I look forward to seeing him in sprints this spring and summer.
#7 King Zachary won by nearly eight lengths in his debut for trainer Dale Romans earning a 94 BRIS speed rating in the process, but the waters get much deeper on Saturday.
#9 Vino Rosso earned a 100 BRIS speed rating in his third place effort in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis, but regressed in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. I think he rebounds with a big effort in the Wood. A must use.
Here is how I will wager on the 2018 Wood Memorial (Race 10)
$40 Win 8 (7 to 2 or higher) = $40
$10 Exacta 8-9 = $10
$1 Trifecta Wheel
8+9 with 8+9 with 1+4+5+7 = $16
Total Budget $66