The purse for this year’s Wood Memorial has been increased to $1 million, and the race is renamed the Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial.
And you thought the Kentucky Derby Presented by YUM! Brands was an ungainly name.
Anyway, the arrangement has been set up by a presenting sponsorship from Resorts World New York to The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA).
“We are honored to be a part of this historic race that has been a staple of Queens for decades,” said Mike Speller, President of Genting New York. “From the beginning, one of our goals in building the new casino facility at Aqueduct has been to strengthen and support New York’s storied horse racing industry. Through this partnership with NYRA, we have taken a significant step in that direction. This year’s Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial is sure to be a spectacular event that will bring out racing enthusiasts and make all of New York proud.”
Mentioned as a probable contender for the final Derby prep in New York is Queens native Mike Repole’s Uncle Mo.
The 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial has long been a springboard to Derby success. Beginning with Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in 1930, 11 Wood winners have gone on to take the Run for the Roses, among them Triple Crown heroes Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Seattle Slew (1977), as well as Twenty Grand (1931), Johnstown (1939), Hoop Jr. (1945), Foolish Pleasure (1975), Bold Forbes (1976), Pleasant Colony (1981) and Fusaichi Pegasus (2000). In addition, Secretariat finished third in the 1973 Wood before going on to sweep the Triple Crown, culminating with his incomparable 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes, which wasn't presented by anybody.
Resorts World New York’s Aqueduct redevelopment project is expected to open later in the Summer. It will include 4,525 Video Lottery Terminals, two new restaurants, a two-story sports bar and other structural improvements to the area adjacent to the racetrack, including a new parking structure, renovations to the existing racetrack facilities and the construction of an enclosed walkway from the MTA subway stop to the casino entrance.
Once fully operational, Resorts World New York is expected to permanently employ about 1,000 workers in the entertainment, hospitality, security and food-service fields.
--Edited track release with additional content by Dick Downey