Who Wins The Wood ?

The $750,000, Grade 2 Wood Memorial is one of the only five remaining qualifying races On The Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby.  A field of nine 3-year-olds will go 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct on Saturday looking to pick up points available to the top four finishers (100-40-20-10).

It is the 10th race on a card of 11, with a scheduled Post Time of 6:00. Here then is a look at the field.

1) BROOKLYN STRONG [ML 6-1] Trainer: Daniel Velazquez. Jockey: Manny Franco. Was last seen Winning the Remsen (G2) on December 5th at Aqueduct, earning 10 Derby qualifying points. Since then, the New York-bred got sick and his connections took aim on the nine-furlong Wood Memorial. His latest series of workouts are promising, but it will not be easy to be competitive in the Wood after a five-month layoff.  

2) CROWDED TRADE [ML 4-1] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Eric Cancel. He was an impressive debut Winner at Aqueduct in January. He came right back in the Gotham (G3), where he got to the lead after a poor start and then battled down the stretch to finish 2nd by a nose behind WEYBURN. That was an impressive effort in just his second start. He should move forward in the two-turn Wood Memorial

 BOURBONIC [ML 30-1] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche. Makes his first appearance on the Kentucky Derby trail after breaking his Maiden for a $50,000 tag at Aqueduct in December. He came right back to Win a starter Allowance going a mile at the Big A. Last out he rallied for 2nd in an Allowance at Parx on a sloppy track. One of two Why horses in this field.

4) RISK TAKING [ML 5-2] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. In December his trainer switched him from turf to dirt and put on blinkers. He then went on to Win his next two starts at Aqueduct going nine furlongs. He broke his Maiden by 2 1/4 and then moved onto the Kentucky Derby trail and Won the Withers (G3) by 3 3/4 lengths. His closing style will serve him well here. Like so many others in this field, he has a legitimate chance to Win. 

5) DYNAMIC ONE [ML 12-1] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. This son of UNION RAGS is one of those slowly developing 3-year-olds in the care of one of the top handlers in the game. He broke his Maiden by more than five lengths last month in his fourth try, going 1 1/8 miles at the Big A. His first two races were loaded with quality runners who became Stakes Winners. DYNAMIC ONE prefers to race from a stalking position, which serves him well here. He feels a little bit like KNOWN AGENDA, who also needed time to mature and just Won the Florida Derby (G1). Hmm…  

6) PREVALENCE [ML 3-1] Trainer: Brendan Walsh. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. This is his only try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby after Winning his first two starts impressively. This colt was a bit of a secret when he broke his Maiden at Gulfstream Park by 8 1/2 lengths at odds of 8-1. His second start was delayed a bit by a mild fever, yet he Won that one-mile allowance by three lengths at odds of 10-1. Racing against Stakes company we’ll find out just how good he really is. 

7) CANDY MAN ROCKET [ML 12-1] Trainer: Bill Mott. Jockey: Junior Alvarado. This guy emerged on the Derby trail when he stretched out from an impressive sprint Victory as a Maiden to Winning the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, earning him 10 qualifying points. Mott then took him to the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), where he disappointed with an 11th-place finish. CANDY MAN ROCKET Won his two races when he was able to press the pace. He will need to find his best stride again, but even so, the nine furlongs seems a bit much for him.

8) WEYBURN [ML 9-2] Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens. Jockey: Trevor McCarthy. Took three tries to break his Maiden, which he did going a mile on a sloppy track at Aqueduct as the even-money favorite. He faced quality fields in his first two starts but he was ignored at the window in the Gotham when he pressed the pace and Won at odds of 46-1, and picked up 50 Derby points. His presence in the Wood Memorial makes it seem like Jerkens is serious about running in the Kentucky Derby. Again, like many others here, he has a legitimate chance to Win. 

9) MARKET MAVEN [ML 30-1] Trainer: Penny Pearce. Jockey: Dexter Haddock. This Pennsylvania-bred broke his Maiden against state-breds and then Won an Allowance against open company with a front-end effort going two turns on a sloppy track. This is a big leap in class for this gelding, as he is up against it in this field. Trainer is looking for her first career Stakes Win. The other Why horse in the field.  

Summary: This edition of the Wood Memorial can best be described as wide-open. Four of the eight horses already have recorded a Victory on the Kentucky Derby trail.

Throw in the unbeaten PREVALENCE, a late-developing Pletcher runner in DYNAMIC ONE, and the Gotham runner-up CROWDED TRADE and that makes for a very competitive battle for two or possibly three spots in the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Bettors are going to have to let the odds board be their guide because ALL of these Win contenders cannot get heavily bet. Most likely to get overlooked are BROOKLYN STRONG, WEYBURN and DYNAMIC ONE.

The Play: The Daily Racing Blog likes #2 CROWDED TRADE for the Win, but should he get bet down below 3-1 we will take one of the above mentioned overlooked horses on top of a Trifecta.

Regardless of how you structure your Trifecta ticket it should include: #1 BROOKLYN STRONG, #2 CROWDED TRADE, #4 RISK TAKING, #5 DYNAMIC ONE, and #8 WEYBURN.

We will use both the #2 and #8 in our multi-race wagers.

Best of luck no matter how you play it.

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