The Kentucky Derby may be officially sponsored by Woodford Reserve Bourbon, but as I write this I am sipping on an Old Forester (Ready To Drink) Mint Julep- on ice. “The Offical Drink Of The Kentucky Derby”. At least that’s what is says on the bottle. Okay, that was a shameless plug, moving on.
It’s four weeks until the Kentucky Derby so the pressure to garner enough points to gain entry is turned up a notch this and next weekend. This week The Trail To The Grail takes us to (among other spots) Aqueduct Park in New York. This is New York State’s premier prep race for the Kentucky Derby. It is run at a mile & 1/8 (9 furlongs) and the winner gets 100 points toward a spot in the gate on May 5th. There is a field of nine for this Grade 2 Stakes Race with a purse of $750,000, and the tenth race on a full card of eleven races.
The Wood Memorial has not been a hot-bed of Derby winners as of late. You have to go back to 2000 when a horse called FUSAICHI PEGASUS dominated The Wood, and then went on to dominate The Kentucky Derby, only to falter in the Preakness Stakes. That is not to say this race has not had its share of superstars. In 1977 SEATTLE SLEW won The Wood and then went on to win The Triple Crown. Four years prior in 1973 SECRETARIAT, finished 3rd (that’s right 3rd) in The Wood, only to go on to become the greatest thoroughbred racehorse of all time.
My picks, and remember always be on the lookout for value:
# 4 OLD TIME REVIVAL. Morning line of 6-1 he finished 2nd to the favorite in this race last time out over this track. Hoping he has something to prove on Saturday. Kenneth Decker trains, and Jeremy Rose rides.
# 5 ENTICED. At 6-5 I don’t see myself being lured in (think about it) to bet him. The man from ‘The Old Sod’ Kiaran Mclaughin is the trainer of this fine steed, with Junior Alvarado aboard for the ride. This horse won on this track last month in the Gotham Stakes, and (barring injury) is already qualified for The Derby. So he doesn’t need to win, could be nothing but a ‘maintenance’ race.
# 2 FIRENZE FIRE. Trained by Jason Servis and ridden by Manny Franco,this horse likes the track, has good blood lines and is a morning line 6-1. He should be on the ticket.
# 7 KING ZACHARY. My Live long shot. I think he will like the extra distance, and at 20-1 I’ll take a flyer on him. A Dale Romans trained horse, with veteran rider Robby Albarado in the saddle, he’s worth a play if all the others get bet down.
# 8 RESTORED HOPE. Flavien Prat rides the Bob Baffert trained shipper from California. At 4-1, I will l leave him on the underside of any ticket I play. Baffert (Alan Bennett look-alike) opts to have this guy run on the east coast, as opposed to running against much tougher company in the Santa Anita Derby. I don’t think you’ll see ‘The Baff’ in the stands at Aqueduct, anticipating that this horse will win.
There’s five. Do what you will. Seek value. Best of luck.