Faces Diverse Cast of Locals, Shippers
By Dick Downey with content from NYRA release
Gotham winner Enticed has been tabbed as the 6-5 morning line favorite in a field of nine for the 94th running of the Wood Memorial.
With 63 qualifying points, Enticed, by Medaglia d'Oro and out of multiple Grade I winner It's Tricky, is already armed with enough points to make the Derby, but connections say he won't rest on his laurels.
"He's doing very well," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He's training great. We're happy with him and we're there trying to win an important race. Even if it doesn't have Grade I status, we feel like it is a Grade I. It's a huge race for a horse in his career, especially for a stallion prospect. Only one horse wins the Derby, and 19 are hot and dirty, so this is a very important race on Saturday."
As a 2-year-old, Enticed finished third in the Hopeful in his stakes debut and closed out his juvenile campaign with a head victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club in November at Churchill Downs.
The colt finished a well-beaten fourth in his seasonal return in the Holy Bull on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park before returning to New York for the Gotham, where he was reunited with jockey Junior Alvarado and turned back to a one-turn mile, taking advantage of his outside post to power home a clear winner and punch his ticket to the Derby.
Alvarado retains the mount aboard Enticed. The pair will break from post 5.
"We wanted to be outside in the Gotham, but going two turns, it's no big deal," McLaughlin said. "There's not a bad post, in my opinion, with a nine-horse field. We were hoping we'd draw 4, 5, or 6, something in the middle, but whatever it was going to be, it was going to be and we'd work it out."
After a couple of efforts at Tampa Bay Downs that didn't yield hoped-for results, Vino Rosso has shipped to New York for Todd Pletcher. He added blinkers for theTampa Bay Derby, where he stalked the early pace before dropping back to finish fourth under John Velazquez.
"He's a horse that's trained very well all winter and in company with some very good horses that have gone on to be successful," said Pletcher. "So, we've been a little frustrated with his races this year. We thought we had seen some improvement with him training, and in the Tampa Bay Derby, Johnny felt like he was more focused in the earlier part of the race, so we talked about it and after discussing it with Johnny, we decided to leave them on.
"We've been looking forward to the Wood for a while," he added. "We're excited to get him back to Aqueduct. It's where he broke his maiden and stretching out to a mile and an eighth is going to allow him to show his true ability."
Vino Rosso is 9-2 on the morning line and will again be ridden by Velazquez from post 9.
Restoring Hope ships from Southern Santa Anitas to make his stakes debut.
"We've always been very high on him, and he worked really well the other day, so I thought we'd take a shot," said trainer Bob Baffert. "He's doing really well. We're like everybody else, we're trying to see if he fits. The Wood is a very important race."
Restoring Hope was last seen in a 3 1/4-length maiden win on Feb. 2 at Santa Anita Park, his third outing.
"We took the blinkers off, and he came back and ran well," Baffert said. "Now, he's training like a good horse, so that's why he's there. Hopefully he ships well and handles everything well. It's new surroundings, and you never know how they're going to act with everything and you still need racing luck and all, but I feel confident that he's going to be very competitive. He's very fast. He has a lot of natural speed. He's got to be up on the pace, so we're going to see what happens. He's a gorgeous horse and he's built for it. He's a big, strong horse."
Flavien Prat will rid ethe 4-1 second choice from post 8.
Old Time Revival, at 35-1 odds, was the horse Enticed had to pass to win the Gotham. He'll go two turns for the first time for trainer Kenneth Decker. Jeremy Rose will be back aboard from post 4. Old Time Revival is 6-1 on the morning line.
"Everything's doing good, so we're excited to make the trip," Decker said. "He seems to be getting better every time we go. It seems like the further we go, the better he does. So we'll see on Saturday, but right now, everything looks good."
Champagne winner Firenze Fire is back on the trail after making all the dances on the New York circuit this year. He got a half-length victory in the one-mile Jerome on Jan13; finished a hard-fought second in the Withers on Feb. 3; and checked in fourth in the Gotham. Manny Franco will ride from post 2 at 6-1 on the morning line.
Rounding out the field for the Wood Memorial are:
-- Evaluator, winner of the Sleepy Hollow for New York-breds last fall for trainer Michael Dilger;
-- King Zachary, a 7 3/4-length maiden winner on March 18 at Gulfstream Park trained by Dale Romans;
-- Heartfullofstars for California-based trainer Phil D'Amato; and
--Catch Twenty Two for trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul.
The 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial carries 170 total Kentucky Derby qualifying points with 100 to the winner, 40 points to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth.
The Wood Memorial will be featured on NBC Sports Network during its show from 5:30-7:30 pm ET. Post time for the Wood Memorial is 5:55 pm ET.
1 Heartfullofstars 20-1 (D Davis), 2 Firenze Fire 6-1 (M Franco), 3 Evaluator 20-1 (K Carmouche), 4 Old Time Revival 6-1 (J Rose), 5 Enticed 6-5 (J Alavarado), 6 Catch Twenty Two 50-1 (L Reyes), 7 King Zachary 20-1 (R Albarado), 8 Restoring Hope 4-1 (F Prat), 9 Vino Rosso 9-2 (J Velazquez). Blinkers On: Catch Twenty Two, Evaluator