The New York trail to the Kentucky Derby ends today with the biggest star in the racing world taking on nine rivals in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct. Uncle Mo seeks to keep his undefeated streak intact as he marches on to Kentucky in dominating style. But the big question is will recent history be working against him?
Inaugurated in 1925, the Wood Memorial was named after New York state politician Eugene D. Wood. In addition to his political interests, Wood was also a horse racing enthusiast and founder of Jamaica Racetrack. The Wood Memorial was run at Jamaica until 1960. At 1 1/8 miles, it is one of the most prestigious derby preps in the country. 11 horses after winning the Wood went on to capture the blanket of roses in the Kentucky Derby; the last being Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. However in the last 10 years, three Wood Memorial winners who figured to be noise makers in the derby never made it the starting gate on the first Saturday in May: Buddha (2002), I Want Revenge (2009), Eskendereya (2010).
Owned by Queens native Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, Uncle Mo is coming off an easy victory in the Timely Writer Stakes. He is without a doubt the class act in today’s field and he shouldn’t have any problems handling the distance or the outer track. However, track conditions may play a part in how he runs; early rain is expected in the forecast. Toby’s Corner has proven he can win over a sloppy track and I look for him to bounce back after the Gotham. He also is the son of Bellamy Road, a past Wood Memorial winner, and he will be adding blinkers this time around. If Toby’s Corner finishes second, he will stamp his ticket to Kentucky and could be a horse to watch.
$1 million Wood Memorial (gr. I, Race 10, 5:48 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Starship Caesar (FL), C H Velasquez, 123, B Parboo 50-1
2. Toby’s Corner (FL), E Castro, 123, H G Motion 8-1
3. Full of Scoundrels (NY), C C Lopez, 123, N Chatterpaul 50-1
4. Arthur’s Tale (KY), R A Dominguez, 123, T Albertrani 12-1
5. Uncle Mo (KY), J R Velazquez, 123, T A Pletcher 1-5
6. Preachintothedevil (NY), J Alvarado, 123, G C Contessa 20-1 7. Duca (KY), J K Court, 123, D W Lukas 20-1
8. Norman Asbjornson (PA), J Pimentel, 123, C W Grove 15-1
9. Isn’t He Perfect (KY), C Hill, 123, D Shivmangal 50-1
10. Son of Posse (KY), F Z Maysonett, 123, R Vitiello 99-1
With a very short price on Uncle Mo, I’d stick to exotics. With such big numbers on the board and a possible, but not likely upset, bettors can expect a decent payoff.
Tri box 2, 5, 7 Tri box 2, 5, 8
Also on the card will be the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes. At seven furlongs, the Bay Shore offers a $200,000 purse and features a strong field of 8 three year olds.
- Justin Phillip, R. Dominguez, 116, S. Asmussen 15-1
- Buffum, D. Cohen, 116, S. bin Suroor 5-2
- JJ’s Lucky Train, J. Ferrer, 118, W. Anderson 3-1
- Dr. Disco, M. Luzzi, 116, B. Brown 15-1
- Harlan’s Hello, C. Hill, 116, D. Shivmangal 20-1
- Smoke It Right, C. Velasquez, 120, B. Chatters 6-1
- Vengeful Wildcat, C. Marquez, Jr., 118, B. Perkins, Jr. 4-1
- Royal Currier, E. Castro, 118, P. Farro 12-1
Smoke It Right is 4 for 4 and figures to be on the lead early with Dr. Disco. Vengeful Wildcat is coming off a second place effort in the Caposseia Stakes, his first start in 6 months. JJ’s Lucky Train has run well at Aqueduct and is my choice to win. This figures to be an exciting race with possible triple crown contenders outside of Kentucky.
Good luck to all the competitors this afternoon. We look forward to an excellent day of racing in New York to add to the derby allure in California and Chicago.
Written by Big Brink