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2014 Wood Memorial

Wood Memorial at Aqueduct

Seattle SlewOne month from now we’ll get to see this year’s Kentucky Derby and I, for one, am very excited about it! The contenders are getting better and better as the competition heats up and this weekend’s Derby prep races are no exception. Last week we caught the lightly raced Constitution winning the Florida Derby by a neck over Wildcat Red and Vicar’s In Trouble nabbed a 3 ½ length victory in the Louisiana Derby. This weekend’s battles will take place in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita. Both races are worth 100 Derby points to the winner, 40 to the second place finishers, 20 to third and 10 to fourth. We’ve been keeping up with the Derby points system this year and you can get all of that info along with the leaderboard and race replays here- 2014 Kentucky Derby Points System. The Wood Memorial started in 1925 and has seen some great horses grace its winner’s circle including Gallant Fox, Count Fleet, Assault, Native Dancer, Nashua, Bold Ruler, Damascus, Foolish Pleasure, Seattle Slew, Easy Goer, and Tapit to name a few. Let’s see how this year’s race is shaping up.

The Wood Memorial Stakes

Social InclusionThe $1,000,000 Grade 1 Wood Memorial is the 10th race on the card at Aqueduct on Saturday and will host a field of 11 three year olds traveling 1 1/8 mile. The 2/1 morning line favorite is Social Inclusion. I won’t lie and say that I am not impressed with this horse because I am, but getting favored over Samraat? Really? Don’t get me wrong, Social Inclusion is by far a top contender, but beating Honor Code in an allowance race does not make him the favorite here. Some might disagree, but I think Samraat has more than proven himself since he is undefeated in 5 starts, including wins in the Grade 3 Withers and Grade 3 Gotham. Anyway (stepping off of my soapbox) Social Inclusion is a beast and he has to have this win to get into the Derby since he is so lightly raced and has no Derby points. I look for him to go at it hard and he will be tough to beat. That leaves me with Samraat at 7/2 on the morning line as a value play. I really thought I would have to look past him, but since he is not the favorite- I’ll take him. Here’s the deal, though. He shouldn’t go off at 7/2 and because of that, my real value play would have to be Uncle Sigh at 5/1. He has hung with Samraat all along the way and I feel he will do the same in the Wood Memorial. SamraatMy biggest concern here is that he gets into an early speed duel with Social Inclusion and can’t maintain the lead. So here’s the big surprise- none of these 3 are going to get great odds. A boxed trifecta might be the best play or we have to hope for a real speed meltdown and throw up a late charging Hail Mary, lol. For a longshot play that would really pay if he were to pull it off, I’m going with Kid Cruz at 20 to 1 on the ML. He’s the only horse in this race that has won at 1 1/8 mile and that was in the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel. He won that one by 4 lengths, so the distance is not going to be a problem here. He was so far back at the beginning of that race he was 18 lengths out of it. The first few calls of that race were at really fast fractions and he was able to come from way back and pick off the front-end runners who were burnt out. I believe this race will be a very fast paced event, so he needs to be about mid-pack to stay within striking distance for this to work. Honestly, I’m rooting for Samraat… but stranger things have happened and if someone should upset this field, I hope that it is Uncle Sigh or Kid Cruz. Good luck everybody!

 

 

 

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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at HandicapHorseRacing.com and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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