The Grade 1, $750,000 dollar Woodward Stakes drew a field of nine for the final Saturday feature at The Spa. The contest is for three year-olds and up, as veteran horses will give it one more shot to Win a Graded Stakes race at the prestigious Saratoga Race Course summer meet.
The 1 1/8-mile Woodward is Race 11 on a card of 12 with a scheduled Post Time of 6 p.m. Eastern. Here then is a brief look at the field for the Woodward.
1. MR BUFF [ML 8-1] Trainer: John Kimmel. Jockey: Jose Lezcano. He comes into this race off two straight Wins by a combined margin of almost 10 lengths. He has registered a Victory in open company last January at Aqueduct in front-running style. He may influence the early Woodward pace (naked on the lead?), but he is unlikely to be around at the end.
2. BAL HABOUR [ML 15-1] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Javiar Castellano. His human connections considered going to the Pacific Classic (G1) after he ran a narrow 2nd in the Monmouth Cup (G3). However, they opted to give the gelding more time between races and the shorter commute to Saratoga. Seems to like added distance this season, he does have some Stakes Victories, but he’ll still need to prove he belongs with this bunch.
3. VINO ROSSO [SCRATCH] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: John Velazquez. He ran 3rd the Whitney (G1), which had to be considered a disappointment, as he faded down the stretch when giving up more than four lengths to the Winner, McKINZIE. On his best day, he is always a threat to Win. But he’s without a Victory in three starts at Saratoga. Note that blinkers come off for Saturdays contest.
4. MONGOLIAN GROOM [ML 15-1] Trainer: Enebish Ganbat. Jockey: Luis Saez. This year he has hit the board in the three west coast Graded Stakes races. Most recently he ran 3rd in the Pacific Classic (G1), which means he beat the four favorites in there at odds of 18-1 and all the east coast shippers. It’s tough to know what to expect from this gelding, who is in the best form of his career.
5. PRESERVATIONIST [ML 7-2] Trainer: Jim Jerkens. Jockey: Junior Alvarado. Coming off his first stakes Victory in the Suburban (G2), he ran 4th in the Whitney as he appeared tired and washed out. In that race he set the pace for six furlongs and then dropped anchor. Equine mystery theater here.
6. FOREWARNED [ML 30-1] Trainer: Uriah St. Lewis. Jockey: Anthony Salgado. This Parx Racing-based 4-year-old shipped up to Saratoga to run in the Whitney and went off at 89-1. He was carried seven-wide in the final turn finished 5th. The Ohio-bred Won a Stakes race at Thistledown in 2018.
7. YOSHIDA [ML 5-2] Trainer: Bill Mott. Jockey: Joel Rosario. When it comes to this guy, you can throw out all of his past performances except the five races at Saratoga. He seems to be at his best at The Spa. At the top of the list is his Win in last year’s Woodward at odds of 6-1 over GUNNEVERA. Since this race moved from Belmont Park to Saratoga in 2006, no horse has Won the Woodward twice.
8. WOODERSON [ML 12-1] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. The half-brother of RACHEL ALEXANDRA had the best race of his career when he ran 2nd just a length behind TOM’S d’ETAT in the recent Alydar Stakes. Prior to that he was a non-factor in two Graded Stakes and had three Allowance Victories to his credit.
9. TOM’S d’ETAT [ML 4-1] Trainer: Albert Stall Jr. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Here’s another horse for the course. He has a perfect 3-for-3 record at Saratoga. The lightly raced 6-year-old broke his Maiden there as a 3-year-old, the following year he Won an Allowance, and in his most recent start he Won the Alydar Stakes as the even money favorite. He does his best running when he sits just behind the early pace.
Summary: This one will require some tote board watching. #7 YOSHIDA will take all the betting money and will offer no R.O.I. as the Post Time favorite. The Daily Racing Blog will be looking for Value with either (or both) #3 VINO ROSSO and/or #9 TOM’S d’ETAT. If we can get 3-1 odds on them, they will be our key horses. If each of those three go to odds of 5-2 or less, we will resort to our Live Long-shot #2 BAL HABOUR.
So our long-shot wager would be a Trifecta Key using the #2 on top of the 3-4-7-8-9. We’ll also do an Exacta Box with the 2-3-7-9. With Win bets on the 2-4-8.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.