by NYRA Press Office
Grade 3 Gotham winner Enticed wrapped up his major preparations for the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack with a half-mile breeze on Friday at trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s winter base at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida.
The Godolphin homebred breezed in company with 3-year-old maiden First Commander, who broke off along the rail a few lengths ahead of Enticed. Enticed stayed to the outside of his workmate and hit the wire on near-even terms to complete the move in 49.95 seconds.
“He worked very well, 49 and four [seconds],” said McLaughlin. “He’s not a real strong work horse, he just does it, but he went fine. He was happy after the work and as long as he comes out well tomorrow, all systems are a go and he’ll fly out Wednesday.”
The work at Palm Meadows was the second for Enticed, by Medaglia d’Oro and out of the multiple Grade 1-winning dam It’s Tricky, following his 2 ¾-length victory in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 10 at the Big A, his second graded stakes win in five career starts.
As a 2-year-old, Enticed finished third in the Grade 1 Hopeful in his stakes debut and closed out his juvenile campaign with a head victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in November at Churchill Downs.
He finished a well-beaten fourth in his seasonal return in the Grade 2 Holy Bull on February 3 at Gulfstream Park before returning to New York for the Gotham, where he turned back to a one-turn mile and took advantage of his outside post to power home a clear winner and punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby. Enticed currently sits third on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 63 points.
“It’s a tough race, especially if [Bob] Baffert brings Solomini,” McLaughlin said. “We had a perfect draw last time out and he was able to stay in the clear. Hopefully, we draw well and he runs well. He’s been training well and a mile and an eighth shouldn’t be a problem.”
Junior Alvarado, who has been aboard for all three of the colt’s career wins, will have the return call in the Wood Memorial, which is also expected to attract Grade 1 Champagne winner Firenze Fire, whose expected appearance in Aqueduct's premier 3-year-old race would increase the Wood purse to $1 million.
As part of the official Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial is the final stop in New York en route to the "Run for the Roses" on May 5 at Churchill. With 170 total qualifying points up for grabs, the Wood is worth 100 qualifying points to the winner, 40 points to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth.
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Solomini ‘90 percent’ likely for Wood, final decision to follow Monday work
Multiple Grade 1-placed Solomini is “90 percent” likely to run in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct pending his final breeze on Monday at Santa Anita Park, co-owner Ahmed Zayat said Friday morning.
Owned by Zayat Stables, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derek Smith, the chestnut son of Curlin looks to make his second start of the year following a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Rebel on March 17 at Oaklawn Park, where he withstood a rough trip to cross the wire 3 ½ lengths behind Magnum Moon.
Zayat said the final decision on Solomini’s final Kentucky Derby prep will be made following a scheduled work on Monday, after Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert returns to California.
“Bob is in Dubai at the moment,” Zayat said. “He’s planning to breeze Solomini, McKinzie, and Justify when he gets back. I’m almost 90 percent sure we’re coming to the Wood. I know that Justify’s connections want to run at Oaklawn, and the other connections are from California, so they’ll be at Santa Anita, and I know we’re not going to run against each other. I know there was a chance to run at Keeneland, but I don’t want to run there.”
The Wood Memorial would be the sixth career start for Solomini, who posted back-to-back seconds in the Grade 1 FrontRunner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall.
The final race of his 2-year-old campaign came in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity in December, where a three-wide closing bid to score his first Grade 1 win was erased by disqualification for bumping in the stretch that advanced Baffert’s other trainee McKinzie to the winners’ circle.
Solomini kicked off 2018 with a second-place finish in the Rebel, and has not been off the board through five starts earning $652,000 thus far. A start on April 7 at the Big A would give Zayat a chance to win his second Wood Memorial after he teamed with trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez to win with Eskendreya in 2010.
“As long as they come out of the breeze safe and well, we know that nothing is certain in racing, but I’d like to think we’re going to the Wood,” he said. “We did well with Eskendreya, and I’d like to win this race again.”
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Midnight Disguise set to take step up in G2 Gazelle; Do Share to G1 Carter
William Wilmot and Joan Taylor’s Midnight Disguise will look to take the next step and build on a stellar start to her career as she readies for the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies on April 7, Wood Memorial Day, at Aqueduct, trainer Linda Rice said Friday.
After winning her first two starts as a juvenile, Midnight Disguise rallied from last in a nine-horse field to get second in her stakes debut in the East View on January 14 at the Big A, marking the only time in five career starts she did not earn a trip to the winner’s circle. Following her 3-year-old premier, the Midnight Lute filly posted a 4 ¼-length score in the Busanda, contested at the Gazelle distance of 1 1/8 miles. After a 1 ¾-length win in the Busher last out on March 3, Rice said Midnight Disguise will forgo a second breeze after working five furlongs in 1:021.21 on March 25.
“I decided to pass on a second breeze since I ran her aggressively this winter,” Rice said. “I’m just going to go with the one workout. She’s doing well. I was very pleased with her coming out of the Busher, so we are on target for the [Gazelle].”
Midnight Disguise has been training at Aqueduct since September, with all of her starts coming over the main track in distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.
“I was very pleased with her Busanda when she won at a mile and an eighth,” Rice said. “I’m sure the competition will be much tougher in this race, but she’s proven at the distance and she’s gaining experience with every race. She’s becoming more professional; switching her leads better and things like that, so we’re really excited for it.”
Jockey Trevor McCarthy, who piloted her to a runner-up effort and back-to-back wins in her last three starts, will have the return call.
Do Share, the runner-up in the Grade 3 Tom Fool last out on March 10, is on target for the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap contested at seven furlongs, Rice confirmed. The 5-year-old Candy Ride gelding has won seven of his 11 starts since 2017, going 7-3-1 in that span. He earned a personal-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure in finishing just a half-length behind Skyler’s Scramjet in the six-furlong sprint at the Big A.
“He was a fast-closing second last time out and I think the seven-eighths will be a good distance for him,” Rice said. “He’s been training very well into the race and we’re also excited to see how he does.”
Do Share also put in his last work on March 25, going five furlongs in 1:01.65 at Belmont Park.
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Wood Memorial decision pending for New York-bred Evaluator
Owner R and H Stables and trainer Michael Dilger will make their decision this weekend on whether their New York-bred Evaluator will run in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 7.
“No decision has been made as of yet,” Dilger said. “We’ll get together this weekend, and I’ll know on Monday where we’re going.”
The chestnut Overanalyze colt switched to dirt in his fourth start and won the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow by a nose at 19-1 on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park. He then returned to miss by a nose in the $100,000 Damon Runyon at Aqueduct, his first start of the year.
Evaluator’s first three starts were on the grass after he debuted to win by four lengths at Saratoga. Two seventh-place finishes followed in both the Grade 3 With Anticipation and the Grade 3 Pilgrim, but the versatile colt has shown ability on both courses.
“He’s a good grass horse too,” said Dilger. “I think because he was in against open company, he was kind of thrown into the deep end in those races, but he’s a good dirt horse too, that’s for sure.”
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Eligible NYRA Bets members can score even bigger with 10 percent winner’s bonus during Wood Memorial Challenge
Horseplayers will have the chance to participate in the Wood Memorial Handicapping Challenge on April 7 and can potentially earn up to 10 percent more thanks to a new bonus program.
The $500 live money buy-in challenge will give horseplayers the opportunity to compete for prize money, with a guaranteed first place prize of at least $5,000 in addition to one seat, including entry fees, to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge in June and two seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas.
NYRA Bets members who finish first-through-third-place in the Wood Memorial Challenge are eligible to receive a 10-percent winners bonus. Any active NYRA Bets member who wagers at least $200 during the Wood Memorial Challenge, outside of the challenge-restricted races, through their individual NYRA Bets account will be eligible for the bonus. NYRA Bets members who have wagered at least $5,000 through the individual’s NYRA Bets account in the preceding 24-week period from November 7, 2017 through April 7, 2018 prior to the Wood Memorial Challenge will also be eligible.
Contestants for the Wood Memorial Challenge are required to pre-register online at NYRA.com/challenge and pay all entry fees by 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 5. Walk-up registrations will not be accepted. For full contest rules and additional information on the NYRA Bets 10 percent bonus, please visit nyra.com/challenge.
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Wood Memorial Day to feature t-shirt giveaway
Fans will have the chance to pick up a commemorative Wood Memorial short sleeve t-shirt with the on-track purchase of a program, while supplies last, on Saturday, April 7. The final giveaway of Aqueduct’s 2018 spring meet will take place on the first floor of the grandstand adjacent to the Silks Bar.
The t-shirt will feature this year’s Wood Memorial logo on the front, and past winners of Aqueduct’s most prestigious race on the back.
Gates will open early 10:30 a.m. with a 12:30 p.m. first-race post time. As always, admission is free.
For more information, including on how to order a Wood Memorial t-shirt online, please visit NYRA.com.
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Fields taking shape for Wood Memorial Day stakes
Fields are coming together for Wood Memorial Day, the premier spring showcase at Aqueduct Racetrack, anchored by the 94th running of the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on Saturday, April 7.
The Wood Memorial, the final New York stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, will be one of five graded stakes on the blockbuster card, which also includes the Grade 2 Gazelle for Kentucky Oaks hopefuls at 1 1/8 miles, and the Grade 1 Carter Handicap, New York’s first Grade 1 event of the year.
The Wood Memorial will be part of a live national broadcast on NBC Sports Network from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET, which will also include coverage of the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park.
Probable fields for Wood Memorial Day stakes on Saturday, April 7:
Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial - 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, 123 pounds
Worth 100-40-20-10 qualifying points as part of the Kentucky Derby prep series
Purse increases to $1 million with entry of a Grade 1 winner
Probable: Enticed (Kiaran McLaughlin); Evaluator (Michael Dilger); Firenze Fire (Jason Servis); King Zachary (Dale Romans); Marconi (Todd Pletcher); Old Time Revival (Kenneth Decker); Solomini (Bob Baffert); Vino Rosso (Pletcher)
Possible: American Lincoln (Linda Rice); California Night (Mike Maker); Kanthaka (Jerry Hollendorfer)
Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap - 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs
Probable: Army Mule (Pletcher); Awesome Slew (Mark Casse); Do Share (Rice); Fellowship (Decker); Great Stuff (David Jacobson)
Possible: Calculator (Rudy Rodriguez); My Boy Tate (Michelle Nevin); Petrov (Ron Moquett); Skyler’s Scramjet (Nevin); Spartiatis (Rodriguez)
Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle - 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles
Worth 100-40-20-10 qualifying points as part of the Kentucky Oaks prep series
Probable: Dixie Serenade (Edward Coletti, Jr.); Midnight Disguise (Rice); My Miss Lilly (Mark Hennig); Sara Street (McLaughlin); Smokinpaddylassie (Coletti); Split Time (Rice); Virginia Key (Pletcher)
Possible: Blue Union Rags (John Servis); Stronger Than Ever (Kenny McPeek)
Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Shore - 3-year-olds at seven furlongs
Probable: A Different Style (John Servis); Aqua Bel Sar (Bisnath Parboo); Aveenu Malcainu (Jeremiah Englehart); Engage (Chad Brown); I’m an Ocala Dude (Nevin); Justaholic (Keith Nations); National Flag (Pletcher); Restoring Hope (Baffert)
Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior - 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles
Probable: Admiral Blue (Rodriguez); Backsideofthemoon (Leo O’Brien); Zanotti (Juan Carlos Guerrero)