Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wood Memorial Racing Roundup

Todd Pletcher is one of the most talented and successful trainers of 2- and 3-year-old Thoroughbreds there is. Pletcher has won a lot of races, but two of the big ones that he’s never won are the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) and the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Pletcher hopes to add one of those races to his resume today when he sends Eskendereya, the 4-5 morning line favorite, to the starting gate of the $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct.

Eskendereya established himself as the top 3-year-old on the Kentucky Derby Trail with his dominating 8 ½ - length win in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and he is the deserving favorite for the Wood Memorial. Eskendereya already was my favorite, since early January, and I would like to see him win.

A win in the Wood will guarantee Eskendereya a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate and with some racing luck he will be wearing the Garland of Roses on the first Saturday in May.

Another horse I like is Awesome Act (9-2). He showed his talent for winning when he returned to racing, after a four-month layoff, and won the Gotham Stakes (G3). Awesome Act barely has enough graded earnings to get into the Kentucky Derby starting gate and a win today would secure him that spot.

Trainer Derek Ryan has been Kentucky Derby dreamin for some time now with his talented colt Schoolyard Dreams (5-1). Last year Ryan had Derby dreams on his mind when he sent the talented Musket Man to the Derby starting gate and he’s hoping to get Schoolyard Dreams there too.

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito already stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby when Ice Box won the Florida Derby and he would like to add Jackson Bend (4-1) to that starting lineup with a win in the Wood Memorial.

For me, today’s race will most likely be a spectator sport as the short field and low odds will make wagering an unprofitable affair.

But that’s okay.

I’ll still be rooting for Eskendereya.


  1. Hi Calvin, the colt (ESKY) dominated the best in Florida (2nd level horses), and now New York (3rd level horses). I want to select the colt as my top Kentucky Derby pick. As of right now, I would have to say the colt has earned the top position.

    I would like to see the colt draw post 8-12 in the 136 Kentucky Derby to maintain the normal 3-4 path he likes to run.

    I do have one question about the colt though! Will he shoot the gap, between horses without delay. Based on pace factors for the Derby, that is exactly what the colt has to do and win.

  2. Barry,

    Only time will tell.

    I personally believe that we have only seen a glimpse of what Eskendereya may be capable of and his pedigree suggests that he could be a Triple Crown winner.

    Eskendereya has a fantastic sire (Giant's Causeway) and a fantastic female line. In addition the female line is enhanced by the influence of Classic Champion Thorouhgbreds going back eight generations: Seattle Slew, Alydar (almost classic), Northern Dancer, Ribot, Cosmic Bomb (not a classic winner), Mahmoud, Peace Chance.

    So we will see what happens. If he lives up to his breeding, he could be awesome.

  3. I would agree Calvin. He appears to be in capable handsI would agree Calvin. He appears to be in capable hands.

  4. Hi Calvin
    It's blackstone (Fred)-I love your Blog-thank you for giving me the link. Your write ups for last weekends races were spot on. Like everyone else, I'm curious about your post-race thoughts, especially concerning Awesome Act and Yawanna Twist. I realize neither will probably make the starting gate, but there is, after all, a couple of other biggies down the road a bit.
    For the record, my feeling right now is that Eskendereya can and will make a serious run at the TC-nothing brilliant, obviously, but I haven't been this impressed with a horse in some time. Also, you were on him long before January, were you not?

  5. Blackstone,

    Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you like the blog.

    Awesome Act and Yawanna Twist are a couple of nice Thoroughbreds but at this point it does not appear that they will have much of an impact on the Triple Crown Trail.

    Awesome Act has a really nice pedigree and I probably will use him in the exotics but I do not see him winning the Kentucky Derby.

    Yawanna Twist does not have enough graded stakes earnings and although he has yet to win a graded stakes, I believe that he has potential and will keep watch on him for the rest of the year. Only time will tell if he has will to win like Musket Man and The Pamplemousse.

    Last December, after all the prep races had been run, is when I did most of my indepth pedigree analysis of the horses on the Triple Crown Trail. Eskendereya and Laus Deo were my two favorites and I also was keenly interested in Homer Winslow and Super Saver. But I did not make any of that public until January when I had discussions with Mike A. on the Daily Racing FormBlog, hosted by Dan Illman.

  6. Hi Calvin
    ..I haven't stopped by in a while, but I love what you have done with your site. Besides your always insightful & interesting comments, I do enjoy your "favorites" links that are accessible.
    & what ever horse you have touted to me or the Formblog, is in my 'Calvin's horses' watch :) Hey, you had Summer Bird last year! I do think that Eskendereya is special, and after his Wood win still think this talented colt has more left to show. We will see. I look forward to May 1st.
    ..Hoping that Super Saver gets a good run in the Arkansas Derby this weekend. He's not quite in the top 20 for graded stakes $$.
    again, I truly enjoy your site.
    SR Vegas

  7. SR Vegas,

    I'm glad you stopped by to visit and thanks for the kind words.

    Super Saver and Dublin look like the top horses in the Arkansas Derby. Dublin already has the graded stakes earning and I'd like to see Super Saver make it into the Derby starting gate.

    Eskendereya is my favorite and I believe that he will win. If he has a bad trip, which is always possible in the Derby, I believe that this field is the most wide open field we have seen in some time and there are several that could claim the Garland of Roses.