Happy Wood Memorial Day! 

Today we get our first big race day in New York with four graded stakes races co-headlined by the Grade I Carter and the Grade II Wood Memorial. The late Pick 5 and Pick 4 sequences at Aqueduct are pretty tough with a state bred maiden filly and mare turf sprint carded in between the Carter and Wood. Wouldn’t all stakes Pick 4 made sense. Oh well, good luck to all! 

Race 8 – The Carter Handicap  – Grade I 

Seven Furlongs on the Dirt for Four Year Olds and Upward 

  1. Today’s Flavor: Winner of four in a row since George Weaver took over training, has been demolishing allowance and claiming fields while sprinting at the Big A this winter – primarily against state breds. Tries stakes company for the first time. Speed ball will have to figure out a way to get seven panels on the front tend. Repeat of last speed fig makes him competitive. Will be sent from this inside post. Gets cooked. 
  2. Bold Journey: Mott trainee has been competing in state bred company with some success including a last out win (96 Beyer). Runs as the low weight at 114 lbs. Best running has been as six furlongs.  Should sit off the first flight. Much deeper waters today. Not convinced. 
  3. Expressman: Two wins and two seconds in four career starts now moves to stakes company for Pletcher. Both wins have been on the front end and the debut had an eye popping 107 Beyer. Turns back to seven panels.  Working sharply in advance of this. Should be primed – will need to be faster than the last several outings to compete here. Possible.
  4. Repo Rocks: Five year old gelding makes his 34th career start and the fourth start of the calendar year – winning his previous three. Two back he crushed the field in the Toboggan with a 111 Beyer – which is the highest Beyer fig this calendar year in North America for dirt races up to a mile.  Should get the setup he likes with some speed he can stalk. He’s been a different horse in Jamie Ness’s barn over the past six months. Firing bullets at Parx. The Pick.   
  5. Little Vic: Was no match for Repo Rocks two back, but relished the off going last time in the Tom Fool (102 Beyer). Definitely moves forward with moisture in the track. Should be part of the early pace but being drawn to the outside of the likely pacemakers should suit him as it did in his last several starts. Gets a slice.
  6. White Abarrio: Won an Allowance race last out (103 Beyer) after coming up empty in the Pegasus Invitational. Ran a decent third over this track in the Cigar Mile (99 Beyer) but hasn’t won a graded stakes since the Florida Derby over a year ago. Stalk and pounce type that has lacked the “pounce”. No wins in six starts away from Gulfstream.  He’ll get a pace to run at in the stretch. Using underneath.
  7. Doppelganger: Third race off a long layoff for Brittany Russell as this one re-enters stakes company off a couple of solid wins at Laurel this winter in Allowance company. Will be coming late. Gets a piece. 

Picks 4-6-7-5 


Race 11 – The Wood Memorial – Grade II 

One Mile and One Furlong on the Dirt for Three Year Olds 

  1. Dreamlike: Has finished second in both career starts for Pletcher/Repole – both of which were at Gulfstream.  Last out, he was wide but got to the front in the stretch before being out finished by a 23-1 shot – earned a 91 Beyer. That’s tied as the best career Beyer in this group. Lasix comes OFF.  Both career efforts were good, he has tried two turns, and an improvement here is not required to win here.  Should gain a decent inside position and sit a trip. The Pick. 
  2. Shadow Dragon: Mott trainee filled out the exacta in the Holy Bull at 34-1 (81 Beyer). But didn’t show much in the Fountain of Youth where he was no threat.  New York bred returns to Aqueduct where he broke his maiden.  Passing.
  3. Knox: Saffie Joseph ships this runner in from South Florida where this one hasn’t won since breaking his maiden last July. Tends to come off the pace. Lasix comes OFF. Don’t see it.
  4. General Banker: Is finishing the grand tour of three year old stakes races at Aqueduct this year as he has finished third in the Jerome, the Withers, and the Gotham.  Wasn’t close in any of those but ran well enough to fill out the trifecta.  Finished behind several of these multiple times already this year. Will need a career best performance in his twelfth start to get the top prize. Possible bottom side of exotics. 
  5. Slip Mahoney: Broke his maiden going a flat mile (87 Beyer) at the Big A.  Had a tough trip in the Gotham where he trailed the field but made a sustained run in the final quarter mile to get second even after being eight wide on the turn (78 Beyer).  Has preferred to be up close – but showed a new dimension coming from off the pace. Dylan Davis back aboard. Contender.
  6. Clear The Air: Expected to scratch here and run in the Blue Grass where he is cross entered.  Failed to impress in the Gotham which was his first dirt effort.  Needs to prove it on the dirt. Lean against if he runs here.
  7. Arctic Arrogance: Has three straight second place finishes at the Big A. The blinkers on move last time did help to get him to the lead in the Withers but he couldn’t hold off Hit Show in the stretch (82 Beyer).  Doesn’t really ever pass horses – but doesn’t get passed a lot either. Figs going in the wrong direction. Blinkers come OFF. Grinder type. Minor award.
  8. Lord Miles: Saffie Joseph ship this one in from South Florida who failed to show much in both the Holy Bull and Tampa Bay Derby. Would be a surprise. 
  9. Crupi: Pletcher entered this maiden last time in the Risen Star (75 Beyer) where he broke slow and has no impact.  Did his best running two back over this surface – but it was when he had Lasix on and he produced by far his best speed fig. No Lasix today. Passing.
  10. Uncle Jake: Broke his maiden last out at Laurel Park (71 Beyer) going the flat mile as the odds on favorite. Broke sharply and took them all the way wining by more than nine lengths. That was the first start for Brittany Russell after starting his career in the barn of Bob Baffert. Demand a price.
  11. Classic Catch: Won a two turn N1X race at Gulfstream last month as the favorite (79 Beyer). Lasix comes OFF for this Pletcher trainee after steady figs in the high 70s. Might take back from this post and try one run late. Possible small piece.  
  12. 12. Swagger: Broke his maiden at first asking (80 Beyer) and went into the deep end in the Gotham where he had a decent inside trip but needed to be moved off the rail in the stretch for better ground on the off track.  Tired in the final furlong but did keep on running. He’ll be sent from this post. If he had a better post I would be interested at a price, but I’ll pass.
  13. Hit Show: Three for four in his career with a nice win last out in the Withers (91 Beyer) where he tracked the early leaders and drew off from Arctic Arrogance in the final eighth. Has the ability to rate and get two turns. Manny Franco stays on board.  Going to have to work a trip from out in the parking lot from this post. Does the Big A have an auxiliary gate? Just joking. Fade.

Picks 1-5-4-7