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As the Wood Memorial was drawn on Wednesday, one thing became certain right away: this is a field of horses that are in need of Kentucky Derby points! None of the eight horses entered are safely in the Derby; the leader, Cloud Computing, has only twenty points, which puts him in a six-way tie for 17th place. The Chad Brown-trained colt has ascended to the top rather quickly off of only two lifetime starts. He will break from post seven with Irad Ortiz, Jr., riding for the first time.
Trainer Todd Pletcher won the Florida Derby last weekend with Always Dreaming, who had zero Kentucky Derby points before winning the race. Pletcher will look to do the same again this week with his star, Battalion Runner, who comes into the race off of back-to-back impressive efforts at Gulfstream Park. Jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard for all previous races (3-2-1-0), will retain the mount.
Rounding out the field are two horses in need of a rebound, Irish War Cry and Mo Town, along with longshots Glenrichment, Bonus Points, True Timber, and Stretch’s Stone. The Wood Memorial will go off as race number ten on a program that features twelve races on the day. Local post time for the race will be 5:52 PM.
#7 Cloud Computing – In Chad We Trust! Chad Brown kicked this week off at Aqueduct by winning three races and is loaded for a big weekend as well. With Cloud Computing it was hard for me to get past his strong progression leading up to this race. Just two months ago, he made his debut a winning one, and in his second lifetime race, he made a very solid showing to finish second in the Gotham Stakes. The speed figure for the Gotham came back strong, and he was a clear-cut second in that race. This is not a field that has any overly-scary horses, so it’s a perfect spot to pick a horse like Cloud Computing. Hopefully, he sits in a good spot early on and makes a big run late to pick up the victory.
#8 Irish War Cry – Two races back, this horse won the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in impressive fashion and immediately shot to the top five of everyone’s Kentucky Derby lists. However, last time out, he was a total no-show in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, and now you can’t even find him on those same lists. I’ll admit that I was never high on the horse until that big win at Gulfstream, but I did love that performance. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s going to run better in this spot, but how much better is my big question. His up-and-down running patterns have me a little scared, which is why I didn’t put him on top.
#3 Battalion Runner – Last week, I picked Always Dreaming to win the Florida Derby, as I felt for quite some time that Always Dreaming had a high ceiling talent-wise. With Battalion Runner, I do have some of the same feelings towards him, but I’m a bit more skeptical as to just how high his talents can rise. There’s no doubt that Pletcher has treated this horse like a star this year, and he has the “Pletcher Progression” that we love to talk about. However, the buzz hasn’t been quite as strong with this one, and I was not a big fan of his allowance race last time out. I’ll have him on all of my tickets, but I couldn’t put him on top.
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#2 Mo Town – After an impressive 2-year-old campaign that ended with a win in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, Mo Town was terrible in his 3-year-old debut, finishing fifth while beaten 10 1/2 lengths in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds. That race was almost too bad to believe, so I have a feeling he could bounce back in this spot. I would have to see a vast improvement before betting much on him again, but if you are looking for value in the race, he’s the horse that is going to offer the most of it.
NONE – My top four choices would not be considered a surprise if they won, while my bottom four choices have very little chance to pull the upset. Much like the Blue Grass Stakes, I don’t see a “Party Crasher” in the group.
#1 Glenrichment – He broke his maiden very impressively the day after the Gotham Stakes, but you have to think this will be a tough jump up in class. I would’ve liked to see a little more out of him before running in a stakes race.
#4 Bonus Points – He took a shot in the Jerome and Withers Stakes, but he was well beaten in both of those races. He’ll give it one more go against the best field he’s ever faced. Not looking good…
#5 True Timber – He’s run in all three of the Kentucky Derby prep races this year at Aqueduct and has actually hit the board in two of them. However, he hasn’t ever been close to winning any of them, which is a trend I don’t see ending here.
#6 Stretch’s Stone – It would be a great story for this New York-bred to make some noise in this one, but he looks to be overmatched against horses of this caliber. This is a really tough spot to try open company for the first time.
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