Wood Winning Angles

For the most part, the $750,000 dollar, Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct has been a predictable race on the road to the Kentucky Derby

Case in point, 11 of the last 12 Winners have started at single-digit odds, including nine who offered odds less than 9-2.          

One reason why the Wood Memorial is so predictable is that it tends to be Won by similar horses year after year. So reviewing recent history might point you toward the most likely Win candidate(s) in any given year.

With that in mind, here’s some data mining to aid in helping define the profile of a typical Wood Memorial Winner:

Late Runners Have A Surprising Advantage. Many North American dirt races favor horses with early speed. Not so much in the Wood.

While a few pace-pressing and pace-tracking types have prevailed, there hasn’t been a gate-to-wire Winner since BELLAMY ROAD in 2005.

Furthermore, the last four Winners all rallied from five or more lengths off the pace after the opening half-mile.

Usually viewing deep closers with skepticism is a sound approach on dirt. But in the Wood Memorial, that guideline must be disregarded.

Don’t Bet Untested Horses. Maiden and Allowance Winners are effective in some Kentucky Derby prep races, but it’s tried-and-true Graded Stakes veterans who Win the Wood.

Seven of the last 12 Wood Memorial Winners had previously Won a Graded Stakes race, while four others had ran 2nd at the Graded-Stakes level.

The only Wood Memorial Winner during this timeframe without Graded Stakes experience was BOURBONIC, who posted a 72-1 upset in 2021.

Favor Trainer Todd Pletcher. This is no secret to east coast racing fans- Pletcher has been almost unstoppable in the Wood Memorial. He’s conditioned seven of the last 12 Winners in this contest.

Many have been short prices, but the aforementioned BOURBONIC was a giant longshot, so it pays to respect any horse Mr. Pletcher enters in the Wood Memorial.

Florida Shippers Have A Big Advantage. When top trainers ship their Kentucky Derby contenders north from Florida to contest the Wood, the local runners struggle to contend for Victory.

Ten of the last 12 editions of the Wood have been Won by horses who prepped at Gulfstream Park or Tampa Bay Downs, which is even more remarkable when you consider only 30 such shippers have contested the Wood Memorial over the last 12 years.

Bet Sons Of Grade 1-Winning Dirt Routers. Horses sired by stallions who Won at the Grade 1 level racing 1 1/16 miles or farther have dominated the Wood Memorial, Winning 10 out of the last 12 editions.

The only stallions to defy this trend were the Grade 1-Winning sprinters HARD SPUN (sire of WICKED STRONG) and MORE THAN READY (sire of VERRAZANO), but it’s worth noting that both recorded top-four finishes in the Kentucky Derby.

In the 2023 installment of the Wood Memorial there isn’t a horse who checks all these boxes, but a couple come close. On Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a closer look at the field.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s