How to Bet the Wood Memorial
Nine three-year-old colts will face-off in Saturday’s $750,000 Wood Memorial S. (G2) at Aqueduct. The lack of an apparent standout in the field makes it an interesting betting option.
#1 HEARTFULLOFSTARS – Dark bay son of Astrology was a game maiden winner going long at Santa Anita and will make the jump to graded company. Phil D’amato pupil would need a huge leap forward to challenge from the rail, and I also have doubts as to how far he wants to run.
#2 FIRENZE FIRE – Jason Servis trainee is a Grade 1-winner with a lot of fight in him. Bay colt has long given the impression of a middle-distance runner to me and this is his make-or-break Kentucky Derby prep. Colt has to show big improvement off of his fourth in the Gotham (G3).
#3 EVALUATOR – Michael Dilger trainee adds blinkers for his biggest test to date. New York-bred is a nose shy from two stakes wins in succession, though this will be a good class rise facing open foes. Late runner is not impossible against this bunch and could have huge exotics value.
#4 OLD TIME REVIVAL – Kenny Decker charge led to the top of the lane and finished well clear of second in the Gotham (G3) in advance of today’s race. Speedy sort is undoubtedly improving and could be dangerous if clearing early once again. But, he will not be 35-1 like last time.
#5 ENTICED – Morning-line favorite and one to beat posted a lifetime-best 104 BRIS Speed figure for his Gotham tally last out. Kiaran McLaughlin trainee is likely the class of the field and could sit a very good trip just in behind the pacesetters in the Wood. Junior Alvarado retains the mount.
#6 CATCH TWENTY TWO – Longshot would be a total shocker. Son of Super Saver won his debut in December against maiden claiming foes and in a lone try with winners, he clipped heels in a starter-allowance endeavor. It is impossible to back the sophomore with any amount of confidence at this stage.
#7 KING ZACHARY – Dale Romans maiden winner surely looked the part in graduating in a third start at Gulfstream Park. $550,000 son of Curlin appreciated going a route of ground for the initial time, but he needs additional improvement to make some noise today.
#8 RESTORING HOPE – Son of Giant’s Causeway removed blinkers and graduated in style last out. Bob Baffert trainee has been hyped some this season and ignoring a shipper from this expert barn would be foolish. Flavien Prat will accompany the good work horse.
#9 VINO ROSSO – Todd Pletcher trainee did not run to his 2-1 odds when an even fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Talented son of Curlin was a fine third in the Sam Davis (G3) prior to that and has long been touted by both his conditioner and pilot John Velazquez, who will ride him once again. Outside post could aid the colt who is due for a breakout performance.
Old Time Revival will be sent from the break by Jeremy Rose, but I expect him to have company from California invaders Heartfullofstras and Restoring Hope. And in turn, the tempo could be an honest one as ‘Revival gets pressed early and often.
Firenze Fire, Enticed and Vino Rosso all have a measure of tactical foot. This trio will always be in touch with the pacesetters a few lengths back.
I have liked Enticed since his juvenile debut, though he has not consistently improved the way that I had expected. His Gotham win was good, but he has to back it up for me to have confidence in him. Enticed is a bet against at 6-5 odds.
Baffert has always spoken well of Restoring Hope and he wouldn’t ship unless he thought that the colt had a good chance of winning. Making the maiden-to-graded jump is massive but this field is not the strongest.
Until Vino Rosso shows a swifter turn of foot, he will remain more of my Belmont (G1) horse as opposed to one I view as a main Kentucky Derby contender. In this particular race, though, his ability, strong morning works and outer post slot all make him a prime contender.
Without overthinking things, it looks like Baffert and Pletcher once again.
$20 Win: #8 RESTORING HOPE
$10 Exacta Box: 8-9 ($20)
$1 Superfecta: 8 with 9 with 2,3,4,5 with all ($24)
$1 Superfecta: 8 with 2,3,4,5 with 9 with all ($24)