by NYRA Press Office
Godolphin’s highly regarded Prevalence will make his stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The nine-furlong test for 3-year-olds is the final local Kentucky Derby qualifier, awarding 100-40-20-10 points to the top-four finishers.
Godolphin seeks its first Kentucky Derby win but could have as many as three entires on the first Saturday in May with unbeaten Champion 2-Year-Old Essential Quality, who runs in Saturday’s Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland, and Group 2 UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance.
If Prevalence is to join Godolphin’s Derby contingent, he’ll need to finish first or second in the Wood Memorial to garner the required qualifying points.
Unbeaten in two starts, the son of multiple champion-producing stallion Medaglia d’Oro has yet to start at graded stakes level. The talented bay colt shined going seven furlongs on debut on January 23 at Gulfstream Park, which he won by 8 ½ lengths in paid workout-like fashion.
The debut score had trainer Brendan Walsh and Godolphin USA president Jimmy Bell considering going right into graded stakes company in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on February 27 at Gulfstream Park. However, a fever altered the colt’s training schedule and the connections called an audible with Prevalence returning victorious in a one-turn optional-claiming mile on March 11 at Gulfstream.
“I really think that’s the goodness of having an allowance race,” Bell said. “A lot of time you get that wow factor of a first performance and then you don’t get that in their second race. In all fairness, it is their lifetime second start, so they are still figuring things out. That’s more natural than an issue. Perhaps it’s maybe a blessing in going back in an allowance race. He got good experiences in both races. To have those two races under his belt. They were both progressive steps.”
Prevalence breezed a stiff half-mile in 47.60 seconds at Palm Meadows Training Center on Sunday, the fastest of 30 works at the distance.
“His last work showed that his energy level was where it needed to be,” Bell said. “He went a half in 47 and 3 and galloped out as easy as possible, so his energy level right there said it all. He’s an easy horse to read. You know where he’s at and what he’s feeling. Certainly, the extra time and having the Wood Memorial where it is on the calendar was important.”
Bell said the Wood Memorial will dictate the direction of the horse’s sophomore campaign.
“When the race is finished, he’ll answer all our questions and point us in one direction or another,” Bell said. “We want to let him show us what he is or isn’t or what he can or can’t do. Even if you can’t run a mile and a quarter, there’s good races and great careers that come underneath that.”
Prevalence represents Godolphin's legacy and that of his multiple champion-producing sire Medaglia d’Oro as well. The prolific stallion has stood at Darley Stud, Godolphin’s breeding division, since 2009 and has been amongst the leading sires in North America.
Bell identified a similar mental strength between Prevalence and his sire.
“They both have that ability to respond to whatever and however,” Bell said. “They put all their energy into their running. I'm a big believer in mental toughness as well as physical ability. It’s important to have it all from a physical standpoint but having it mentally all together is also important. During his racing career, Medaglia d’Oro showed up on a lot of big days and was very consistent. This one is consistent so far as well.”
Medaglia d’Oro, a three-time Grade 1-winner who captured the 2002 Travers, also is the sire of Wood Memorial aspirant Risk Taking, who likely poses the biggest threat to Prevalence.
“It would be nice to see a Medaglia d’Oro in the winner’s circle,” Bell said.
Godolphin enjoyed a record-extending ninth triumph in the Group 1 $12 million Dubai World Cup last Saturday with Mystic Guide, which will be a tough act to follow for the lightly raced Prevalence.
Bell said Mystic Guide will get some rest and relaxation after a 3 ¾-length victory in the Dubai World Cup. The son of Ghostzapper trained by Michael Stidham was Godolphin’s first North American-based and trained Dubai World Cup winner.
Bell said that Mystic Guide could return to action this summer at Saratoga Race Course.
“It's been a phenomenal 2021 for him and us both,” Bell said. “Watching him show us the talent he has and that he can get the mile and a quarter distance was gratifying to see. He'll get a pretty good break coming back home after two just unbelievable races this year We’re talking more Saratoga-ish time of the year.”
Never worse than third in eight career starts, Mystic Guide won last year’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga before a close second to Happy Saver in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. After a 4 ½-month layoff, he returned to action with a six-length win in the Grade 3 Razorback over a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park en route to Dubai.
“He showed that he can handle any kind of track it seems,” Bell said. “It’s never an easy assignment to ship halfway around the world and bring your ‘A’ game. He handled it all very well. He showed that he’s made a big development not only physically but mentally as well. It takes a certain type of horse mentally and physically to handle that travel on a big night. He certainly shined on the right evening.”
Overtook pointing toward G3 Peter Pan
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he will target the Grade 3, $100,000 Peter Pan on May 8 at Belmont Park with Overtook, who has not raced since finishing second to Risk Taking in the Grade 3 Withers on February 6 at Aqueduct.
The son of Curlin, out of Grade 1 winning A.P. Indy mare Got Lucky, was shipped to Pletcher’s primary winter division at Palm Beach Downs in Florida following the Withers. Overtook has registered two easy half-mile works at the South Florida training center and will return to the work tab this weekend, Pletcher said.
“We just got a little off schedule with him,” Pletcher said. “He’s training every day at Palm Beach and he’ll breeze this weekend. We’d like to get him ready for the Peter Pan.”
Pletcher said a strong effort in the Peter Pan, a nine-furlong test for sophomores, would likely make the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 5 the next goal.
“That’s what we’re hoping,” Pletcher said. “If we have a good performance in the Peter Pan it could propel him into the Belmont.”
A $1 million purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Overtook was a third out maiden winner on December 20 at Aqueduct before finishing a late-closing second in the Withers. He is owned by Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable and the Coolmore partners Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith.
Pletcher also spoke of last Saturday’s Grade 1 Florida Derby hero Known Agenda, who gave the 53-year-old conditioner his sixth triumph in the prestigious Derby prep race at Gulfstream Park.
Also owned by Vinnie Viola’s St. Elias Stable, Known Agenda graduated at second asking in November at the Big A ahead of a third-place effort in the Grade 2 Remsen in December. The chestnut is undefeated in two starts at Gulfstream since adding blinkers following a fifth in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis in February at Tampa Bay Downs.
Pletcher said the Curlin colt will remain at Palm Beach Downs for the time being.
“We’ll stay at Palm Beach Downs for now,” Pletcher said. “We haven’t decided when we’ll plan to ship to Churchill. Ideally, we would like to ship up in time for at least one work at Churchill. We’ll play it by ear and see how the weather is up there and how hot is down here.”
Capo Kane on the shelf with ankle injury
Bing Cherry Racing and Leonard Liberto's Capo Kane, winner of the one-turn mile Jerome on New Year's Day at the Big A, did not enter Saturday's Wood Memorial after incurring an injury to his right front ankle on Tuesday at Parx.
Trainer Harold Wyner said the injury will require some time on the sidelines.
"We galloped him Tuesday and he took a bad step pulling up and strained his ankle," said Wyner. "I spoke to the owners and we're going to give him a little time off. It's nothing that he won't be able to come back from. It's a shame as he was training really well."
A $26,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, the California-bred Street Sense colt has made his last three starts at Aqueduct, including a third in the Grade 3 Withers in February and a sixth last out in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 6.
A trio of Pick 5s offered on Saturday’s Wood Memorial card
Saturday’s stakes-laden Wood Memorial Day card offers a numbering of intriguing options for bettors, including a middle Pick 5 featuring a mandatory payout.
The 11-race card begins at 12:50 p.m. with a field of six maiden filly and mare claimers sprinting six furlongs on the main track to kick off the first of three Pick 5 offerings. The opening Pick 5 sequence, which offers a carryover provision, includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore for sophomore sprinters in Race 4 and will conclude in Race 5, where a field of seven state-bred fillies and mares compete in a six-furlong allowance sprint.
The middle Pick 5, which offers a mandatory payout, begins in Race 4 [2:21 p.m.] with the seven-furlong Bay Shore featuring Grade 3 Swale-winner Drain the Clock for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. A compact field of five includes the streaking Beren, who enters from a pair of wins at Parx for trainer Butch Reid.
The middle Pick 5 sequence is bolstered by the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap in Race 6 [3:25 p.m.], where multiple Grade 1-winner Mind Control takes on last year's Grade 3 Gotham victor Mischevious Alex and last-out Grade 3 Tom Fool winner Chateau in a compelling renewal. The middle Pick 5 concludes in Race 8 [4:31 p.m.] with the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior, a nine-furlong test for older horses led by popular New York-bred Mr. Buff in search of a first graded score.
The Late Pick 5 sequence, which has a carryover provision, kicks off in Race 7 [3:58 p.m.] featuring a field of seven fillies and mares in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance that will provide the North American debuts of formerly European-based fillies Caen Na Coille for trainer Graham Motion; Lady Sansa for trainer Christophe Clement; and Flighty Lady for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown. The Late Pick 5 sequence includes the Grade 3 Excelsior in Race 8 ahead of the Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle [Race 9, 5:09 p.m.] that will see Brown saddle stakes winners Search Results and The Grass Is Blue in the nine-furlong test offering 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points.
The penultimate leg of the Late Pick 5 is the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, a nine-furlong test for sophomores offering 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in Race 10 [5:58 p.m.]. The Brown-trained Risk Taking, last out winner of the Grade 3 Withers, and Crowded Trade, who missed by a nose to Wood rival Weyburn last out in the Grade 3 Gotham, lead a strong group of nine which features the undefeated Godolphin homebred Prevalence for trainer Brendan Walsh.
Closing out the Late Pick 5 is a full field of state-bred maidens 3-years-old and up traveling 1 1/16-miles on the outer turf in Race 11 [6:28 p.m.]. Michael's Bad Boy, trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., will look to break through in his eighth start after a runner-up effort last out at this level in November. Voliero will take a drop in class in his seventh career start for owner-trainer H. James Bond.
The Empire 6, which offers a daily mandatory payout, will begin in Race 6. There will be a pair of Pick 4s offered starting in Race 2 [1:18 p.m.] and Race 8 [4:31 p.m.].
For more information, please visit http://www.nyrabets.com.
Saturday’s Wood Memorial Challenge offers cash prizes and two seats to 2022 NHC
Saturday’s Wood Memorial Challenge is the second-of-six $3,000 NYRA Bets live-money handicapping challenges offered in 2021.The Wood Memorial challenge, featuring a $3,000 buy-in, offers an array of prizes including a cash prize pool, one seeded $10,000 Belmont Stakes Contest Seat, and two 2022 National Handicapping Championship [NHC] seats.
NYRA Handicapping Challenge entrants will be able to register and compete online in all contests via NYRA Bets. The leaderboard for all of these contests will be posted throughout the day on America’s Day at the Races, the acclaimed national telecast produced by NYRA in partnership with FOX Sports.
Registration closes for Saturday's Wood Memorial Challenge on Friday, April 2 at 5 p.m.
In order to enter and play online, contestants must be registered NYRA Bets account holders. To learn more, visit www.NYRA.com/challenge.
The $3,000 NYRA Bets handicapping challenge series:
Saturday, March 6 – Gotham Challenge won by Tim Haas
Saturday, April 3 – Wood Memorial Challenge
Saturday, July 3 – Stars & Stripes Challenge
Saturday, August 7 – Whitney Challenge
Saturday, September 4 – Woodward Challenge
Saturday, December 4 – Cigar Mile Challenge
Entrants for the two-day Belmont Stakes Challenge will compete for one seat to the 2022 Belmont Stakes Challenge, four seats to the NHC and two seats to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC).
The 2021 Belmont Stakes Challenge has an entry fee of $10,000, of which $2,500 will go directly to the prize pool, with the remaining $7,500 comprising each participants’ bankroll. Eligible tournament races at Belmont Park will start on Friday, June 4, and end with the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5. Contest players can make win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta wagers.
Online registration for the Belmont Stakes Challenge will open in May.
Each Saturday throughout the racing season - with the exception of the NYRA Bets challenge series dates and also May 1, May 15, and November 6 - NYRA Bets will offer a $300 live-money handicapping challenge.
The unique NYRA Bets $300 live-money handicapping challenge ($200 live bankroll / $100 prize pool) offers cash prizes to the top seven finishers, while players that land eighth through tenth in the standings will receive an entry in next week’s contest ($300 value).
New NYRA Bets members are currently eligible to receive a bet $200 get $200 bonus. NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of The New York Racing Association, Inc. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
Wood Memorial Media Kit
The nine-horse field for Saturday’s Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino will feature a slew of talented sophomores looking to ace the two-turn, 1 1/8-mile test with 100-40-20-10 qualifying points to the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on the line to the top-four finishers.
The 96th running of the Wood Memorial, which has seen 11 winners go on to win the “Run for the Roses” in its illustrious history, has a post time of 5:58 p.m. Eastern and will air on NBSCN as part of a live national broadcast beginning at 5:30 p.m. Prior to the NBCSN broadcast, national television coverage of the Wood Memorial Day card from Aqueduct can be found on America's Day at the Races on FS2 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
The Wood Memorial will see 5-2 morning line favorite Risk Taking, one of two entrants for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown along with 4-1 Crowded Trade, challenge a loaded field, including 3-1 second choice Prevalence, trained by Brendan Walsh. Brooklyn Strong, at 6-1, provides a local angle as a New York bred who won the Grade 2 Remsen for trainer Daniel Velazquez.
To learn more about the entire field, along with historical records, past winners, and other biographical information regarding one of New York’s most prestigious races for 3-year-olds, please click this link.