Brian’s Derby Preps: The Wood Memorial

Brian Nadeau is back this year to offer insight and analysis on this year’s road to the Kentucky Derby. A handicapper at Horseplayer Now and Capital OTB, he’ll analyze every official Derby points race and the three Triple Crown races, back at Brooklyn Backstretch for the sixth year.

Aqueduct: The $750,000 Wood Memorial at 1 1/8 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 100-40-20-10)

Brian Nadeau is back this year to offer insight and analysis on this year’s road to the Kentucky Derby. A handicapper at Horseplayer Now and Capital OTB, he’ll analyze every official Derby points race and the three Triple Crown races, back at Brooklyn Backstretch for the sixth year.

#1 Glennrichment (15-1): Homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile has progressed in his last two, which were his first at two turns on the main track, and enters this off an easy wire-to-wire MSW win over the local inner dirt, though it’s unlikely he’ll be on the lead if he runs :48 again to the half. It’s a confident sign by Rodriguez to give him a try in such a tough spot, and he did draw well, too, but this isn’t the ideal spot to face winners for the first time, especially when a few of these are on a lot of Kentucky Derby short lists; needs much softer to threaten.

Mo Town and John Velazquez at Aqueduct. Photo NYRA/Adam Coglianese

#2 Mo Town (6-1): The trickiest of reads was a big future book hotshot this winter after a sharp track and distance win in the GII Remsen to close out his 2-year-old season for Dutrow in November, but things quickly went off-track in his return, when he was an awful fifth as the stiff favorite in the GII Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February. And before you give him a pass, don’t overlook the fact that his big win in the Remsen was at the expense of the much-ballyhooed Takaful, who hasn’t done a thing since his MSW win, which means you can pick apart this son of Uncle Mo’s claim to fame a little bit. It’s good to see him back home, and Tony D. knows what he’s doing, and the AM drills are sharp as a tack, but he better right that ship in a hurry; expecting better, but a win seems out of reach.

#3 Battalion Runner (2-1): So, we have yet another major Derby prep with an up-and-coming Pletcher would-be star who impressed at Gulfstream Park this winter but needs to pass the acid test to show he belongs on the national scene; sound familiar? Well, it should, as it’s worked countless times already this year, and the public will tell you it’s going to work again with this son of Unbridled’s Song who won both GP starts in fast time and now steps up and into a graded stakes for the first time, albeit for a barn that can’t miss with anything in 2017. And while the price will be a short one, there’s a ton of versatility here, and he showed last time in his two-turn debut that he doesn’t need the lead to win, not to mention this isn’t the saltiest Wood field we’ve ever seen, so you have to think he’s going to be a real handful; tepid call.

#4 Bonus Points (20-1): The second from Pletcher will be one of the longer shots on the board, as he was a non-threating fourth in the GIII Withers over the inner dirt in February and has never run remotely fast enough to win this, or crack the trifecta, for that matter. Majestic Warrior colt has a stalking/closing style in a race where the pace seems very legitimate, so he might be able to pass a few in the lane and outrun his odds, though that appears about as high as he can climb; minor award, if at all.

#5 True Timber (12-1): Pace player was part of some hot splits in the GIII Gotham over the inner and paid the price late, as he backed up readily to finish a well-beaten fifth in a very fast race on figures. If you’re a fan of McLaughlin, you’ll get your guy at a big price, and that second in the Withers two-back was solid, but this son of Mineshaft isn’t walking up front through :49 and change today, which means he’s really up against it; know him early, not late.

#6 Stretch’s Stone (15-1): Fellow front-runner will likely be sent from this wide draw, with the quick run to the first turn, and figures to add some fuel to the fire for Levine, while starting outside the New York-bred ranks for the first time, so needless to say, he’s stepping way up today. Homebred son of Bustin Stones appears to have talent, and the horse he got put up over last time in that optional-claimer on the inner came back to win here the other day, but that’s not really a bullet point on your resume when tackling legitimate Derby hopefuls; easy toss.

#7 Cloud Computing (5-2): Heavy hitter has garnered a lot of publicity off that fine second in the Gotham, as he was the only one involved early to stick around late, and the fact that it was his first start against winners and first at two turns only emphasizes the thinking. Of course, he’s likely going to be caught wide and chasing again today, as the splits look solid, and he drew poorly, too, though there’s little doubt that this son of Maclean’s Music looks like a real comer for Brown. If there’s a worry, it’s that the almost 8-1 last time will be replaced by about 8-5 today, but price aside, it’s quite obvious that this is the main danger; looms mighty large.

Joel Rosario and Irish War Cry. Coglianese Photography

#8 Irish War Cry (7-2): If Mo Town was the first tricky read, then this son of Curlin is #1a, as he looked stunning wiring GP’s GII Holy Bull in February, then couldn’t make the lead and stopped badly in their GII Fountain of Youth last month, so, you’ve got to wonder just who is showing up today? There’s also the very real possibility that he’s a need-the-lead type, in that he has to be on the point to run his best race, and while his backers will say he passed a bunch in his Laurel Park MSW win in November, that really doesn’t hold much water going nine furlongs in April. Motion, like Dutrow, will give it one more try, and like Mo Town, the works say he’s in good form, but there’s a lot of pace in here, he drew terribly, and he’ll need to be sent hard to make the lead, and it’s just a big ask to expect him to rebound right away off such a complete dud; willing to make him prove it.






#3 Battalion Runner

#7 Cloud Computing

#2 Mo Town

#4 Bonus Points



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