Wood Memorial Needs a Hero

The Wood Memorial (KYD) (Grade 2)- $750.000 Purse
AQU- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
April 7, 2018

With one month to go until the KYD, this weekend represents the final chance for top three year olds to pick up critical points so that they can be part of the field. The Wood Memorial is a 100-point race that also offers a nice $750.000 purse for its winner. Last year, Farley On Wheels picked up the big win for Tiratzo to get into the big race. Two years ago, one of the greats of the game, Atomic Twister was the winner of the Wood Memorial, and while he did not win the KYD that season, he would take home a bigger prize at the end of the season when he won the BC Classic. The KYD has never been one by a winner of the Wood Memorial, and in fact the winner of this race has never even hit the board. While a couple past winners were distant fourth place finishers, Atomic Twister’s sixth place finish, where he was only a length from the victory, is the best run by a Wood Memorial winner in the KYD. Let’s see if this year’s winner can change that. We have a good field here, so let’s see who can call themselves the Wood Memorial winner.

#1- No Chill (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by G Franco)- It’s a nice turn of events for the trainer in regards to the post draw, as last week for the FL Derby, No Chill drew the 14 post, and was scratched out of it. This time, he draws the rail. He has not earned any points for the KYD as of yet, and he was last seen finishing 6th in the Grade 3 Southwest, running in the middle of the field from start to finish. Previously, and in his only other start of 2018 following a good two year old campaign, he set the pace in the Smarty Jones before fading a bit. Speed figures have been very consistent lately.

#2- Bandito (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J J Castellano)- A winner of two out of ten starts, this colt has one point in the KYD chase right now, thanks to finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Withers here in February. Last month in the Fountain Of Youth, he was forced way to the outside for the stretch, and was still able to make up a fair amount of ground. This inside post should mean a better trip, but he seems to concede too much ground early in races, and will need to be a little closer here.

#3- Local Hero (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by G Boulanger)- The trainer has two horses, Fox News and Handsome, in safe position for the KYD, and looks for his third such entry here with this regally bred colt. He was a late entry into the TC chase, but in the TAM Derby his impressive late charge got him fourth place, and five points. Like Bandito, he’s going to have to start that powerful run earlier to get a chance at the top three spots, and should also keep a close eye on Bandito to not get too far behind that one, since both may employ the same running style.

#4- Mist Maker (Crocker Ggs, ridden by K Carmouche)- Sitting 19th in the points, Mist Maker is definitely on the bubble for making the KYD. Most likely, he will need to pick up a few points here, but the need for Mb Stables to limit his entries to three could be a good break for Mist Maker. His three year old campaign was disappointing to start in the Holy Bull, but his come from behind bid in the Grade 3 Gotham here got him those 20 points for finishing third. There may be several looking to come from way out of it, so K Carmouche will need to keep track of horses like Bandito and Local Hero.

#5- Flying Around (Mb Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- There will be three in this field from Mb Stables, and Flying Around is the longest shot of those three. When Local Hero was running in the TAM Derby, Flying Around was winning that day on the undercard, in an optional claimer at TAM. It was strong effort, and one that warrants a step forward like this, but it goes to show that as of now, Flying Around is inexperienced against this type of competition.

#6- Pure Gifts (Mb Stables, ridden by J Alvarado)- Speaking of the TAM Derby, that’s a race that went well for Pure Gifts as he was able to finish third thanks to his own late bid in the stretch. His prior race saw him run second in the $150.000 Winkfield right here, a race in which he tried to go wire to wire, so he can get it done different ways. He has 10 points, and sits behind a handful of stablemates on the leaderboard.

#7- Mistress Seeker (Aer Stables, ridden by C J Lanerie)- Since running in the BC Juvenile, it has been a struggle for Mistress Seeker, with a series of unimpressive races. He simply has not been a contender this year, so the trainer made him pay the ultimate sacrifice by gelding him after the Fountain Of Youth. First time geldings are always dangerous, and he looks like a candidate to potentially benefit exceptionally well from the snip. He’ll be the spoiler in this field, and if the odds climb, take a shot on him.

#8- Ride Or Die (Delta Farms, ridden by R Maragh)- An interesting entry, because whatever the signs are that have led to him being here, is something that only the trainer can likely see. Has not worked more then six furlongs publicly, but if he’s carrying his speed from those works, then the potential is certainly there. He only has one win in four starts, his debut at FP. We’ll see what happens, but the information isn’t there publicly to put a lot of confidence in him.

#9- Worst Case Scenario (Mb Stables, ridden by M E Smith)- The third and final entry from Mb Stables in this field, Worst Case Scenario currently has 4 KYD points, putting him well back on the leaderboard, and among his stablemates. He attained those points with a second place finish in the Grade 3 Lewis Stakes at SA, but did not follow it up quite as well last month in the San Felipe. Works are steady in comparison to the rest of the field, but I don’t think this would be one of the trainer’s three selections for the KYD even with a big run here.

#10- Sacred Sacrifice (Fractious, ridden by J Lezcano)- This is a late bloomer, with two wins in three career starts. Neither of the first two wins are going to intimidate anyone in this field, but Sacred Sacrifice fared well in this jump up to stakes company in the $100.000 El Camino, running fourth and making up ground late. Since then, he put together an impressive work here on the 26th of March, and with no time to spare in the TC chase, Fractious is taking the shot.

#11- Lafsim (Alydar Stables, ridden by A J Juarez Jr)- The King Simba gelding had success in ungraded stakes at GP in being able to cash a check, but his inability to win such a race may have been part of the reason for Gdp Inc to sell him for $90.000 to Alydar Stables. The new trainer, seeing that potential, took a shot in the Fountain Of Youth last month, his first time going long, but he would not be a factor. He gets another try here. I’m not sold on him being capable of running with most of these yet, but we’ll see.

#12- Eclipse My Knowledge (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J Rosario)- As a two year old, this Knowledge Geek colt was getting some graded stakes experience, but he has not been on the TC trail yet this year, perhaps due to a disappointing run at the RP Springboard Mile. 2018 has seem him run in two allowances, and in his last race, he finally returned to the winners circle for the first time since breaking his maiden. Now, he gets another chance at this level. Worth the shot, for sure.

#13- La Grande Terre- Scratched

#14- Halted (Sanny Village, ridden by C P DeCarlo)- While the trainer has one of the top three year olds in the game in Lane Frost, he would love to get a second entry into the KYD. Unfortunately, Halted already has the cards stacked against him with this outside draw. He’s been consistent with three wins and six finishes in the money out of nine starts, but a flat showing, also from an outside post, in the San Felipe last month did him no favors. I’d like him more with a better spot in the gate, but its hard to pick anyone starting out here right now.

Prediction: 3-4-6-7

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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