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$1 Million Wood Memorial (G1)

2014WoodMemorial_headerSocial Contenders History Handicapping Contenders
 

The field for the Grade 1, $1 million twinspires.com Wood Memorial is set! There are a number of top Kentucky Derby prospects facing off in Saturday's featured race. Check out the field, in post position order:

With three other graded stakes on the card, you'll have the opportunity to see some of racing's best from other divisions. Here are the highlights from the day's other big races:


Kid Cruz - SCRATCHED

Kid Cruz
Kid Cruz breaks his maiden
Photo by Adam Coglianese

Trainer Linda Rice has had some good luck claiming horses off Hall of Famer Bill Mott lately. Such was the case with Palace, whom she claimed for $20,000 and has since won a trio of stakes with. Kid Cruz was a more expensive investment, running $50,000 here at Aqueduct in November, but has the makings of a profitable one. In his most recent start, Kid Cruz rallied wide from far back to take the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park.

Kid Cruz has been scratched from the Wood Memorial due to a sore shoulder. "It's disappointing," said trainer Linda Rice, "but we'll give him some more time between races and possibly look at the Illinois Derby [April 19 at Hawthorne Park]."

Owner: Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds LLC and Black Swan Stable
Trainer: Linda Rice
Jockey: Manuel Franco

Watch:


Wicked Strong

Wicked Strong
Wicked Strong breaks his maiden at Belmont
Photo by Adam Coglianese

Wicked Strong has done his best running in New York, a form he hopes to return to at Aqueduct. The bay colt was an impressive maiden winner at Belmont Park. He has also flirted with success here at the Big A, rallying despite being wide and green to finish third in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes. Gulfstream Park was less kind to the sophomore, who chased Cairo Prince in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes before finding himself in one of the meet’s toughest 3-year-old allowances which was won by Constitution.

Owner: Centennial Farms
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh



 

Watch:


Noble Moon

Noble Moon
Noble Moon takes the G2 Jerome
Photo by Adam Coglianese

Early passengers on the Noble Moon bandwagon were handsomely rewarded when the colt made his debut at Belmont Park. He went to the lead, did battle, and stayed in front to pay over $53 to win. Owner Treadway Racing Stable and trainer Leah Gyarmati brought him back in the G2 Nashua at Aqueduct Racetrack. Over the same track as the G1 Wood Memorial, Noble Moon made a wide move before flattening out to finish third. The winner that day Cairo Price, future runaway winner of the G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.  The bay colt made his next start, and his three-year-old debut, in the G2 Jerome on New Year’s Day, where he galloped to a comfortable win.

Owner: Treadway Racing Stable
Trainer: Leah Gyarmati
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
 

Watch:


Harpoon

Harpoon
Harpoon prior to his debut at Saratoga
Photo by Adam Coglianese

If Harpoon’s silks look familiar, particularly in the context of the Wood Memorial, they should. Let’s Go Stable and Todd Pletcher, the connections of the sophomore, sent out Verrazano to capture the race last year. The gray colt broke his maiden in eye-catching fashion at Gulfstream Park in his fourth start. He came back to be nosed out by stablemate Vinceremos in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs before finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Gotham.

Owner: Let’s Go Stable
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez




 

 


Los Borrachos

Los Borrados
Los Borrachos breaks his maiden
Photo by Adam Coglianes

Los Borrachos began his career in Southern California, but it wasn’t until coming east that he found the winners’ circle. He found himself in tough maiden heats out west against horses like Chitu and Bayern before transferring to Bill Mott’s barn at Belmont Park. His first start in the Big Apple was a good one. Los Borrachos came running four wide to break his maiden going away at Aqueduct.

Owner: Wachtel Stable, Brous Stable, and Silver Ranch Stable
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Cornelio Velasquez



 

 

Watch:


Kristo

Kristo
Kristo settled in at Aqueduct
Photo by Adam Coglianese/Susie Raisher

California shippers have faired well in the Wood Memorial, highlighted by wins by western invaders Fusaichi Pegasus, Congaree, and I Want Revenge in the race’s recent history. Kristo looks to capitalize on that. The bay colt has battled with a pair of the Golden State’s most promising Kentucky Derby contenders, California Chrome and Midnight Hawk, in his last two starts. Kristo enters the Wood Memorial off of a third-place effort in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park.

Owner: Hronis Racing LLC
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Martin Garcia

 




 


Schivarelli

Schivarelli
Schivarelli romps in the Aqueduct fog
Photo by Adam Coglianes

Schivarelli romped to a 12-length allowance win at Aqueduct in February. You’re forgiven if you didn’t notice – the race occurred under foggy conditions that made it easy to miss him stamping himself as a three-year-old to watch. The victory was his second in as many starts. Schivarelli was a green but impressive debut winner in January.

Owner: Pike Place Racing and Homewrecker Racing LLC
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Javier Castellano



 

 

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Samraat

Samraat
Samraat takes the G3 Gotham
Photo by Adam Coglianese

Five trips to the races. Five wins. Samraat has passed every test he’s faced thus far in his career. The New York-bred began his career with three straight wins by more than 25 combined lengths before stepping into graded company. He quickly found himself a rival in fellow Big Apple product Uncle Sigh. Samraat finished a length clear in the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers Stakes before they put on a memorable show in the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham Stakes. The homebred for My Meadowview Farm was the first graded stakes winner for his owner, who has been a longtime player in racing.

Owner: My Meadowview Farm
Trainer: Richard A. Violette, Jr.
Jockey: Jose Ortiz





Watch:


Effinex

Effinex
Effinex rolls in an allowance
Photo by Adam Coglianese

Typically, a maiden victory comes when crossing the wire in front. That wasn’t the case for Effinex, who broke his maiden via disqualification on March 1 at Aqueduct.  Without ever having seen the front end, the colt was dismissed at 28-1 in his following start. Perhaps that provided extra motivation. He scampered to the lead and drew off to an impressive 6 ¼ length win.

Owner: Tri-Bone Stables
Trainer: David J. Smith
Jockey: Rosario Montanez






 

Watch:


Uncle Sigh

Uncle Sigh
Uncle Sigh at Aqueduct
Photo by Adam Coglianese

Uncle Sigh followed up a narrow debut loss with an electrifying maiden win, finishing more than fourteen lengths in front. The New York-bred immediately moved into graded stakes company where he found himself knocking heads with undefeated Samraat. He folded by a length in the G3 Withers before the two put on a spectacular show in the G3 Gotham. The margin that day was just a neck.

Owner: Wounded Warrior Stables and Anthony C. Robertson
Trainer: Gary Contessa
Jockey: Corey Nakatani







Watch:


Social Inclusion

Social Inclusion
Social Inclusion scores at Gulfstream
Photo by Adam Coglianese/Beth Arkin

Two-for-two by more than 17 lengths combined and a track record. Careers don’t start much better than that. Social Inclusion has been nothing but impressive in two Gulfstream Park starts. Sent off as the second choice in his most recent start, Social Inclusion left heavy favorite Honor Code well behind in a quick 1:40.97. Quick means quick - the final time was a track record.

Owner: Rontos Racing Stable Corp.
Trainer: Manuel Azpurura
Jockey: Luis Contreras

 

 



 


G1 Carter

Sahara Sky
Sahara Sky capturing the G1 Met Mile
Photo by Adam Coglianese/Chelsea Durand

The Grade 1 Carter, which dates back to 1895, has hosted some of the all-time greats in racing. Tom Fool and Forego count the race among their many accomplishments. It has a penchant for close finishes, too, including a triple dead heat between Bossuet, Wait A Bit, and Brownie in 1944. This year’s field is headlined by 2013 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap winner Sahara Sky, who was second to Swagger Jack in the 2012 Carter. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee enters the race off of a narrow victory in the G2 San Carlos Stakes. He faces a field that includes fellow G1 winners Golden Ticket and Strapping Groom, in addition to Central Banker, Clearly Now, Dads Caps, and Saturday's Charm.

The entries are now available!






 

History of the Game:


G2 Gazelle

Sweet Reason
Sweet Reason preps at Aqueduct
Photo by Adam Coglianese

In 2013, the G2 Gazelle was relocated from the fall lineup to Wood Memorial Day at Aqueduct Racetrack. The move was designed to turn the race into a key prep for the G1 Kentucky Oaks. It worked. Gazelle runner-up Princess of Sylmar went on to upset the race, while winner Close Hatches would also go on to firmly establish herself as one of the division’s best. Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason leads the probables for the 2014 edition of the race. Leah Gyarmati got an allowance prep into her three-year-old filly earlier in the Aqueduct meet. She'll meet a strong contingent from the Todd Pletcher duo of Got Lucky and My Miss Sophia, plus Wraith, Vero Amore, and Bird Maker.

The entries are now available!

 


 


G3 Bay Shore

2013 Bay Shore
Declan's Warrior gets up in the 2013 Bay Shore
Photo by Adam Coglianese

 Earlier in its history, horses like Damascus and Secretariat used the race to propel them to success in Triple Crown events. More recently, it’s been an early season target for future champion sprinters like Lost in the Fog and Trinniberg. Scintillating Grade 2 San Vicente winner Kobe's Back is in from Southern California to headline the race. He faces off against Charleymillionaire, Oliver Zip, Financial Mogul, Coup de Grace, Loki's Vengeance, Favorite Tale, and The Admiral.

The entries are now available!