No Derby prep race can in its totality ensure their accuracy with predicting the most rightful contenders for the Triple Crown. Even a reputed graded stakes as the Wood Memorial Stakes can fail or fall in the hands of an upset. The prime purpose the prep races serve is the test of the thoroughbreds’ physical fitness and racing conditions before they move into a rest period prior to the big consecutive races from the Triple Crown series.
Also, the Kentucky Derby mile and a quarter is the first longest they race as a three year old and hence the toll is heavy. Essentially if the trend is observed, almost nothing can confirm that a good layoff before the Roses or regular workouts and prep races could prepare a horse for the big day.
However, if the contribution of the races is analysed, according to the North American thoroughbred racing statistics as seen on the web suggest almost all of the last two decades of Blue Grass Stakes winners have graduated to the level of entering the Kentucky Derby gates; with Arkansas Derby its almost eighty percent, Santa Anita Derby winners have stood at eighty-five percent chances; Florida Derby is almost another hundred percent while Wood Memorial Stakes trails at approximately sixty-five percent chances.
Wood Memorial Stakes, conducted at Aqueduct racetrack, was initially raced at a mile and one sixteenth since the commencement of the event in 1925 until it was increased to a mile and one eight in 1940. The weight has been frozen at 123lbs and one of the most memorable misses at the event happened in 1973 when Secretariat faced a substantial defeat at the hands of prime rival, Sham and finished third. Secretariat would later go on to win the Triple Crown in a record breaking performance without breaking a sweat.
Last year, Wood Memorial winner, Toby’s Corner may have created ripples as the winner of one of the most crucial Derby prep races but a newly developed lameness kept him off the circuit for long.
This year, the Grade 1 9 furlong race invites one of the most talked about horses from the three year old category. The lightly raced, Tiger Walk from the Sagamore Farms, was last seen in Gotham Stakes pulling off a decent fourth finish. Prior to that, the colt has nailed a third in Grade 3 Withers Stakes in February.
The Pleasantly Perfect colt, My Adonis, from the George and Lori Hall brigade has finished in the money in his three year old campaign and despite not having shown any major winning element, the Kelly Breen trainee has never finished out of the money in 8 starts, save one.
A not so impressive Breeder’s Cup Juvenile but a startling win at the Champagne earlier last year followed by two consecutive wins from the two starts this year, the Count Fleet Stakes and the Withers Stakes, Alpha has been the eye of the storm for reason’s like not deciding upon the next prep race, absence of any probable jockey until now and much more. He would soon be seen chasing the field at Aqueduct Wood Memorial.
WinStar Farms’, Pletcher trainee, Gemologist is by Tiznow and until now, he is undefeated from his last four starts, though only one of them is a graded race.
Casual Trick, another Bernardini colt may not seem very impressive with his racing records but a proper layoff may bring him in much fitter than the rest and less fatigued. Of his five starts in career, Casual Trick has won only once. His last race, Fountain of Youth, witnessed the colt fading to seventh.
Other probable colts expected to start at Aqueduct on the weekend for Wood Memorial include Teeth of the Dog, Brimstone Island, Cozzetti, Street Life and The Lumber Guy.
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