2015 Wood Memorial Stakes Preview
As the Road to the Kentucky Derby enters its final two weekends, there is still plenty up for grabs including potential spots in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.
On Saturday, the first of three prep races (the other two being the Grade 1 Blue Grass and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby) will be run starting with the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes from Aqueduct. A field of 7 horses entered the race and will be going one mile and eighth for a purse of $1,000,000.
Outside of the whopping purse offered, there are 100 points that will be given to the winner of this race towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard to help determine the 20 starters in the Kentucky Derby. Second place will receive 40 points, third place will receive 20 points, and fourth place will receive 10 points.
Post time for the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes is scheduled for 5:30 PM Eastern Time as the tenth of 12 races at Aqueduct. Free past performances can be found here.
1. Tiz Shea D (8-1 Morning Line) – He has only two races in his career. He won his debut at Parx by 4 lengths going 5.5 furlongs. He was then turned over to the care of trainer Bill Mott where he was entered in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. He ran a very good race in his second career start and first going a route of ground by finishing second by 2 3/4 lengths behind El Kabeir. His rail draw should have him in a great spot here if he is good enough.
2. Toasting Master (20-1 ML) – He has started six times in his career and began by winning two of his first three races. He was then entered in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park where he was sixth. He then tried a route for the first time in the OBS Championship, but finished fourth that day. He too was entered in the Gotham Stakes, but could only muster another fourth place finish after setting the pace. He he weakened going 8.5 last time and this is half of a furlong farther.
3. Lieutenant Colonel (15-1 ML) – Like his counterpart on the rail, he too has had only two career starts. He won by a head at Gulfstream in his debut going one mile and was then shipped to New York for the Gotham Stakes. He did not have a good break and was never in contention while finishing last of 10 horses that day. He is probably better than he showed in the Gotham, but we may not see it here in the Wood Memorial either.
4. Frosted (5-2 ML) – He broke his maiden in his third start after starting his career with back-to-back second place finishes. He then ran in the Grade 2 Remsen where he missed by half a length and then took some time off and headed south. He was second in the Grade 2 Holy Bull behind a dominant Upstart and then ran in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. He had the lead in the stretch, but ultimately finished fourth in a rough stretch run. He should have a good spot behind the front runners in this race.
5. El Kabeir (3-1 ML) – El Kabeir has seen his name all over the Kentucky Derby prep races in New York. He began the year with an easy win in the Grade 3 Jerome by nearly five lengths before being run down by Far From Over in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes and finishing second. He bounced back in an odd way in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. He had to come from way behind, which is opposite of his normal stalking and pressing style. It did not matter as he won by 2 3/4 lengths over Tiz Shea D. He certainly makes sense in this spot.
6. Daredevil (9-5 ML) – The morning line favorite began his career at Belmont with a smashing debut win by 6 1/4 lengths. He parlayed that into a 2 1/2 length win in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, also at Belmont. He had a poor trip in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on his way to finishing 11th, beaten nearly 26 lengths. He came back in March and ran second by 2 3/4 lengths in the seven furlong Grade 2 Swale Stakes. If he is ready (or if there is a sloppy track), he will be tough to beat. It is worth noting he needs to finish first or second to make the Derby.
7. Tencendur (12-1 ML) – He has yet to leave the state of New York to race, but that has worked out just fine for him. He was third in his debut and then broke his maiden second time out while going into New York bred competition. He then finished fourth in the Grade 3 Withers by 4 lengths in an even race and then could not rally to finish better than fifth in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. He will need a hot pace to make a big impact here.
There is a reason #4 Frosted, #5 El Kabeir, and #6 Daredevil are the favorites. #5 El Kabeir has done little wrong in New York this prep season and his last race was excellent. He can rate, press, or close if need be and he is the top choice here. #1 Tiz Shea D is probably a step below the top trio, but if he can get a good trip, he could round out the exacta. #6 Daredevil has three really good races and if the track comes up sloppy, he will be hard to beat. #4 Frosted may find it a bit easier against this group, but he needs to run better than his Fountain of Youth last out.
1. El Kabeir
2. Tiz Shea D
Check back on Saturday evening for the recap of the Grade 1 Wood Memorial as well as the Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.