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Mike and Maria Repole lead Outwork to the winner's circle after the Wood Memorial.
The major New York prep race for the Triple Crown is the $1 million Wood Memorial Stakes (G1), contested at 1 1/8 miles, one complete circuit of the Aqueduct main track, worth 100 points to the winner under the Road to the Kentucky Derby. It was not a picture-perfect day at the Long Island track, with rain all afternoon, a muddy main track, and temperatures near 40. A field of 8 three-year-olds went to post on Saturday afternoon with Gotham Stakes (G3) winner Shagaf sent of as the 9-5 favorite. In to challenge him included 12-5 second choice Outwork, runner-up in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and 11-4 third choice Matt King Coal, winner of 2 straight allowance races and making his stakes debut here.
Down the stretch in the Wood
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 8 Outwork Velazquez 5.80 4.80 3.90 3 Trojan Nation Gryder 40.60 13.40 2 Adventist Carmouche 4.90 Winning Time: 1:52.92 $2 Exacta 8-3 319.50 $2 Trifecta 8-3-2 1,955.00 $2 Superfecta 8-3-2-6 11,674.00
Left: Outwork in the winner's circle. Winning owner Mike Repole said, "To come back here five years later, with a son of Uncle Mo. That was one of my toughest racing days, and this is one of my best racing days. My little daughter is nine months old, she won her first Grade 1, it took me 42 years. She's brought me some pretty good luck. I was scared a lot when I saw that horse coming up along the rail. He's so young. He's only getting better. Thank God the wire came up because another jump, he probably wouldn't have made it."
Right: Outwork returns after the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "Broke really well. He was going a little too fast in the first turn and I had to get him a little easy in the first turn. Everyone was pushing outside and I had to let him settle down. The other horse came to him and he picked it up a little bit on the backstretch. I got him away from him (the other horse) to relax and then at the quarter pole he put his ears up, idled a lot. He is still a young horse who is still learning. He has mastered a lot and he showed a lot of heart, he went from 3/4 mile to 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 in a very short time."
Left: Outwork in the paddock before the race.
Right: Outwork heads out for the post parade. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Until you actually run on an off-track, you never really know for sure. I thought he handled that part really well. I think he lost focus a little bit when he made the lead. Johnny said he idled a bit on him. Plus he was getting a little tired. They ran along the first part pretty well. I was hoping that didn't catch up with him late. Forget the Derby, forget everything other than the fact it was a huge win for him in only his fourth lifetime start. To win a Grade 1 in only his fourth start is extra gratifying for our team, because five years ago Uncle Mo didn't win the Wood Memorial. It's sort of vindication in some ways for him."
Left: Second place finisher Trojan Nation heads out for the post parade. Jockey Aaron Gryder said, "They told me early on, take him back and make one run. If you go too slow, we have no excuse. If they go too fast and you can't catch him we have no excuse. I just tried to save every inch of ground. We were able to save ground on both turns and he just ran a really gallant race. He was very brave in defeat. It was a very strong effort. They've got options. They can run him from a maiden race to the Kentucky Derby in his next start. He's an improving horse and a distance limitation is not going to be a problem."
Right: Third place finisher Adventist returns after the race. Trainer Leah Gyarmati said, "He went a little wide on the second turn, but that I guess that's the way things worked out if you wanted a free run. He beat some nice horses, he beat the horses that were picked to win. He shows up every time. He's a legitimate horse. With the third-place we earn enough points, we'll talk with Mr. Treadway and decide form there."
Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Shagaf in the paddock before the race. Trainer Chad Brown said, "They were going pretty good up front. We were a little farther back than we thought, but the pace was strong. He made a sharp middle move there and then he just had enough of the mud. We'll just see how the horse comes out of the race and go from here. If the horse is healthy I'm inclined to hope for a dry track at Churchill and a better trip. I'm confident the horse can get 1 1/4."
Run immediately before the Wood, the $300,000 Bay Shore Stakes (G3) featured a field of six 3-year-olds sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Debut winner Unified was sent off as the 6-5 favorite over 9-5 second choice Awesome Gent, winner of the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes, and 4-1 third choice Cocked and Loaded, unraced since 5th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Unified to the front exiting the chute and he set fractions of 22.65, 45.88, and 1:10.34 while pressed by 10-1 King Kranz and stalked by Cocked and Loaded. In the stretch, Unified left the field in his wake, cruising past the post 3 lengths clear of King Kranz in 1:22.86. It was a long 8 lengths back to Cocked and Loaded third.
Results Chart from DRF.
Left: Unified in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens said, "He wasn't on the lead but he was close. He broke stupidly sharp last time, which horses never do, and I didn't expect him to do that again, but he got the lead easy enough, though the first quarter was bit quick. When I saw King Kranz's jockey scrubbing on him in the middle of the turn, I felt pretty confident. We never shy away (from stretching out), but we don't believe in going from six furlongs to two-turn races, unless it's a special circumstance you don't run into too often. It's always good to develop them in increments."
Right: Unified acts up in the paddock. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz said, "Jimmy told me to wait until they come to him. I waited until the quarter pole and when I asked him to go he flew. I knew if he kept going at that pace he was going to win. I think he is really, really nice. Now he's got two races that prove that. The horses with five or six races under their belts, he with just one race beat them."
Left: Second place finisher King Kranz returns after the race. The 10-1 shot pressed the pace under Kendrick Carmouche but could not improve finishing second beaten 3 lengths. The John Terranova trainee improved his record to 1 win, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds in 9 starts, earning $224,490 for owner Zayat Stables.
Right: Third place finisher Cocked and Loaded in the paddock. The 4-1 third choice stalked the pace in third under Irad Ortiz Jr. but could not improve finishing third beaten 11 lengths. The Larry Rivelli trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 7 starts, earning $340,840 for owners Richard Ravin and Patricia's Hope LLC.
On to the Carter Handicap and Gazelle Stakes also on the card.
Past winners of the Wood Memorial
Past winners of the Bay Shore Stakes
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