The $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita, and the $500,000 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne offer up $2.25 million in graded earnings, and it appears likely it will take between $225,000 and $250,000 to crack the top twenty in graded earnings this year, the lone way to assure stamping a ticket to Louisville.
Creative Cause is the 6/5 favorite for the Santa Anita Derby, and his $686,000 in graded earnings has him comfortably in the Kentucky Derby field.
A strong performance beating the likes of Liaison, I’ll Have Another, and Midnight Transfer today could lead him to being the betting favorite on Derby Day.
The Illinois Derby drew an overflowing field, and the winner’s check of $300,000 should be enough to earn a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May.
The field looks a cut below the talent we are going to see in the Santa Anita Derby and Wood, but there are several talented runners including Hopeful (G1) winner Currency Swap, Private Terms runner up Hakama, and New York bred Pretension.
The undefeated Gemologist leads the field in the Wood, and the Todd Pletcher trainee needs to pick up a paycheck to add to his $103,855 in graded earnings.
A win or a second gets the colt in, while a third place finish would place him squarely on the fence to get in.
The Wood and Santa Anita Derby along with the Ashland (G1) from Keeneland for three-year-old fillies will be televised live on NBC during a 90-minute telecast starting at 4:30 ET.
Let’s head out to Aqueduct for today’s featured play of the day:
Aqueduct Race 9 The Wood Memorial G1 (5:15 ET)
- My Adonis 8/1
- Gemologist 8/5
- Alpha 5/2
- The Lumber Guy 8/1
My Adonis appears to be the best value of the race as our second and third choices are likely to garner most of the attention at the betting windows. Last out the colt tracked the early pace and was no match for Hansen in the Gotham (G3) in a solid effort. Three runners have come out of the Gotham to run, with one winning, Raconteur winning the Private Terms at Laurel Park on March 17. He was bumped at the break two back in the Holy Bull and rallies nicely after getting outrun early to finish third, beaten a half-length by Hansen for the runner up spot. He makes his third start of his current form cycle and popped a bullet work on March 30.
Gemologist was supposed to go to Oaklawn Park for the Rebel (G2) but instead made his three year old debut in an allowance race where he went gate to wire in a sharp effort off a four month layoff. The runner up in the race was Currency Swap, who won the Hopeful (G1) last September at the Spa. The colt has to be cranked as he needs to win or at least finish second to get enough graded earnings to make it to Louisville. This guy may be the most talented three-year-old in the Pletcher barn, but to find out we are going to have to settle for a light price.
Alpha appeared likely to go in the Florida Derby (G1) but lands here again. His Count Fleet and Withers (G3) wins came on the inner track and now he has to prove himself on the main track. The McLaughlin barn is 28% winners with horses coming back off a 46-90 day layoff. Ramon has made it back from his injury to keep the mount and the colt looks capable of moving forward off his last two wins.
Wood Memorial Wagering
WIN: No. 3 to win at 9/2 or better.
EXACTA: 3,6 / 1,3,6,8
TRIFECTA: 3,6 / 1,3,6,8 / 1,3,5,6,8
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