Las Vegas, NV - Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York will be a busy place this Saturday, April 6 with five graded stakes races on the card. The biggest of which is the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes for three year old Kentucky Derby hopefuls. A nice purse of $1 million will be on the line as will 100-40-20-10 points toward qualification into the Kentucky Derby for the first through fourth place finishers, as three year olds race 1 1/8 miles on Aqueduct's main track.
A field of 10 has been confirmed for the Wood Memorial - race 11 on Aqueduct's stacked Saturday card. Post time is 6:28 PM. Here is a brief glance into the credentials of all 10 entries for this important Grade 1 stakes, two of which have created a lot of buzz. Either Verrazano or Vyjack will taste defeat for the first time Saturday while others desperately clamber for the allotted points in what should be an intriguing race.
Verrazano - Todd Pletcher trained colt made his stakes debut with an impressive score last time out with 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby March 9 after two starts and two more wins - an impressive Allowance Optional Claiming by 16 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream February 2 with a Beyer Speed figure of 105 and a MSW score by 7 3/4 lengths in his debut January 1 also at Gulfstream. He hasn't been touched in his three starts and is the morning line favorite Saturday.
Vyjack - has four career starts but has won all on this track - a Maiden Special Weight in his career debut November, the Traskwood Stakes December 9, the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes over Siete de Oros January 5 and last time out in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes March 2. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez has a real Derby contender on his hands - it will be interesting to see if Vyjack can keep his roll going Saturday.
Normandy Invasion - Chad Brown pupil has four career starts with a win in a Maiden Special Weight race here November 2 to follow a fifth in his debut September 15 at Belmont Park. His last two races have been of the graded stakes variety. He was a nice second two back in the Grade 2 Remsen here in November but was a disappointing fifth last time out in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds February 23. He absolutely needs a good result here and may be the best option of the non-favorites in the race.
Mr. Palmer - enters the Wood Memorial on a two race win streak for trainer Bill Mott - the minor Private Terms Stakes last time out at Laurel Park March 9 and a MSW before that on this track February 17. He has those two wins, a second and a third place finish in seven career starts - all of those results coming in his last four starts. Mr. Palmer will likely need a first or second place finish to qualify for the Run for the Roses so he has absolutely nothing to lose.
Elnaawi - Kiaran McLaughlin trainee has three career starts with an OK third last time out in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes here March 2, a MSW win January and a third place finish in a MSW December 8. He is in that group that could qualify with a second or third place finish - a fifth will likely spell his demise.
Always In A Tiz - is coming off a fifth in his graded stakes debut at the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Before that was a third in the minor Smarty Jones Stakes behind Will Take Charge, a decent second in the Traskwood Stakes and a MSW score in his career debut at Saratoga in September. He will wear blinkers for the first time and have the benefit of experienced rider Calvin Borel.
Freedom Child - makes his stakes debut Saturday after four MSW races. Last time out he broke maiden in wire-to-wire fashion by 5 1/4 lengths at Gulfstream March 10 after a third, a second and an eighth respectively to start his career.
Chrisandthecapper - has four starts in his career all MSW races. He is coming off a win March 9 by 11 1/2 lengths on this track to follow a pair of seconds at Calder and Monmouth respectively. His other result was a fifth in his debut in July at Monmouth Park.
Go Get the Basil - will make his stakes debut Saturday after six career starts. He had a three race win streak in the winter snapped last time out with a decent second and a 94 Beyer Speed Figure in an Allowance Optional Claiming here March 7.
Quinzieme Monarque - has six career starts for trainer Thomas Albertini and has finished fourth in five of those starts including the last three graded stakes races - the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes last time out at Gulfstream, the Grade 2 Remsen in November here and the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont Park in November. He did have a MSW score before that but fourth place seems to be where this colt can be expected to finish!