One year ago Aqueduct Racetrack was closed due to the pandemic and no one knew if, or when, there would be a 2020 Triple Crown.
The mood was considerably different Saturday when the Grade 2 Wood Memorial returned after a one-year hiatus.
Yes, there were masks affixed and vaccine cards were a badge of honor.
But in the paddock at the Big A, life was back to normal with Winners and losers talking about the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, as well as the game’s all-time leader in purse earnings- trainer Todd Pletcher, who reaffirmed himself on the Derby trail after sending out the top two finishers.
Yes, normalcy was, seemingly, restored… except for when you took a close look at Pletcher’s sixth Winner of the Wood and the incredibly long odds alongside his number on the tote-board.
In one of the most unlikely finishes in recent Triple Crown prep history, the all-Pletcher Exacta in the $750,000 Wood consisted of horses priced at 72-1 and 15-1 as BOURBONIC rallied from last in a field of nine to beat DYNAMIC ONE by a head to trigger a $146.50 Win payoff as well as earn 100 qualifying points to secure a spot in the May 1st Run for the Roses.
The Exacta combining the two Pletcher horses in this key Triple Crown prep for 3-year-olds paid $906 for a $2 wager.
As little as three weeks ago Pletcher had no horses in the Top 20 of Derby qualifiers. When the smoke cleared Saturday the trainer found himself in the enviable position of having four colts that are peaking at the right time and currently have earned enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby.
“Sometimes the worst thing you can have is a hot hand in January and February,” said Pletcher, who also trains Florida Derby Winner KNOWN AGENDA as well as SAINTHOOD.
Conversely, the best thing you could have had was an all-Todd Pletcher Exacta in the Wood.