Looking for a Rocket in Wood Memorial at Aqueduct

Wood Memorial

A field of nine line up in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct. (Photo credit: © George Zilberman | Dreamstime.com)

Four graded stakes winners battle on Saturday in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, the final Derby prep in New York this season.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby points races offers up 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers. The Wood is one of five graded stakes on the 11-race card at Aqueduct.

There are two other Road to the Kentucky Derby points races this afternoon—the $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland and the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita. The NBC Sports Network will televise the three Derby preps.

The Chad Brown trained Risk Taking is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Wood. The colt broke his maiden in his third career start and then won the Withers (G3) going nine furlongs in his last outing.

The buzz horse is Prevalence (3-1) who makes his stakes debut for Brendan Walsh. The Godolphin runner beat Alw-1 optional claimers at Gulfstream Park going a mile in his last outing on March 11.

“He’s quick, so with that kind of speed, he should be prominent in the race,” Walsh said. “He hits me as a horse who can handle any kind of surface.”

Prevalence Beats Optional Claimers at Gulfstream Park

Trainer Todd Pletcher has won five of the last 10 editions of the Wood and sends out a couple of longshots in Dynamic One (12-1) and Bourbonic (30-1).

Dynamic One broke his maiden last out in his fourth career start and second over the Aqueduct main track. In his second start he ran second to Greatest Honour at Gulfstream Park, finishing 1 ½ lengths behind the winner.

“He’s always trained well,” said Pletcher. “He was a little unlucky in his two races at Gulfstream to draw the outside post both times, so we were happy to see him get the job done with the maiden win at Aqueduct. We’re going to step up and give him a chance.”

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott won the 2019 Wood with Tacitus and saddles Candy Man Rocket (12-1). The Sam F. Davis (G3) winner regressed in his last outing where he finished a well beaten 11th in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

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My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Keeneland along with the major stakes action.

Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Free Horse PIcks

Aqueduct Race 10 The Wood Memorial G2 5:58 ET

7 Candy Man Rocket   12-1

8 Weyburn   9-2

6 Prevalence   3-1

2 Crowded Trade   4-1

Candy Man Rocket

This guy was anything but a rocket last out as he faded to finish a well beaten 11th as the chalk in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). The colt broke his maiden going six furlongs by 9 ¼ lengths in his second career start for the Mott barn. He then stretched out to a route for the first time in the Sam F. Davis (G3) where he tracked the early pace and took command in the stretch to win by a length. Among those he beat that day was Known Agenda, who came back to beat Alw-1 foes and then win the Florida Derby (G1) last Saturday.  The colt has come back with three works and the fact Mott is bringing him back here bodes well this guy is going to bounce back with a much better effort. He is bred to handle nine furlongs, by Candy Ride out of a Forestry mare. The last two winners of this race exited the Tampa Bay Derby and eight straight have made their last start at either Tampa or Gulfstream Park.


The colt won the Gotham (G3) last out in his first start against winners and first go at a route. The colt acted up at the gate, then prompted the early pace while down toward the inside on a day the outer paths were best. He shied in approaching the eighth pole, was corrected by his jock and got up in the last jump. He shares top last out speed fig honors with Crowded Trade who lost that photo in the Gotham. The colt makes his second start off a three-month break and looks very capable of moving forward with the added ground. He is by Pioneerof the Nile out of a A.P. Indy mare that has dropped four other winners including stakes winner Yorktown ($546,322) and stakes placed Nipigon ($384,329).


This colt is perfect in two starts and gets his class test today. He broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park going seven furlongs in his debut by 8 ½ lengths. He then beat Alw-1 optional claimers going a mile in his first go against winners, drawing clear to win by three lengths as the heavy favorite. Only one runner has exited that race to run back, the runner up sixth next out in the Florida Derby. This colt appears to have a ton of upside and looks capable of moving forward off his first two outings. He is by Medaglia d’Oro out of a Ghostzapper mare that has dropped three other winners, two stakes winners. He is going to be a threat here, but the 3-1 morning line does not seem to offer much value for the top spot.


WIN: Candy Man Rocket to win at 6-1 or better.

EXACTA: 7 / 2,4,6,8 and 7,8 / 6,7,8

NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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