A field of nine led by three Todd Pletcher trainees and defending champ Yoshida will battle in Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward (G1) at Saratoga.
While not an official “Win and You’re In” race, the Woodward is a key prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) which is now just over two months away.
The Woodward has a long history and is a race that has been won by many greats including Kelso, Forego, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacualr Bid, Alysheba, Easy Goer, Cigar, Curlin, Rachel Alexandra and Ghostzapper.
The Bill Mott trained Yoshida won last year’s edition by two lengths at 6-1. As a four-year-old he won a Grade 1 on turf and dirt and was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
He is 0 for 4 this year but did earn a career top speed figure in his runner up finish to McKinzie in the Whitney (G1) in his last outing on Aug. 3.
Pletcher sends out a trio of runners as he seeks his fourth win in the Whitney. The trainer won with Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010) and Liam’s Map (2015).
Vino Rosso (7-2) won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in May and was third in the Whitney in his last start.
“He breezed super on Friday,” Pletcher said. “It was a real strong breeze. He came out of it with some good energy and has been galloping well this week. It seems like he’s in good form.”
Wooderson (12-1) is a half-brother to 2009 Woodward winner Rachel Alexandra. The colt ran second in the Alydar over the Spa main track on Aug. 2.
“It was a good race. He was closing a bit at the end but just got there too late,” Pletcher said. “He’s a horse that we figured would get better with age all along and it seems like he’s starting to find his rhythm.”
Bal Harbour (15-1) was second beaten a head in the Monmouth Cup (G3) in his last start and will be the biggest price among the Pletcher trio.
The Woodward is one of four graded stakes on the card at Saratoga. The co-features are the $250,000 Prioress (G2), the $200,000 Saranac (G3) and $250,000 Glens Falls (G2).
Fox Sports 2 will cover the action from Saratoga from 2:30 ET to 7:00.
Let’s had out to Saratoga for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 11 The Woodward G1 Post time 6:00 ET
7 Yoshida 5-2
9 Tom’s d’Etat 4-1
3 Vino Rosso 7-2
8 Wooderson 12-1
The Bill Mott trainee exits a runner up finish in the Whitney (G1) over the main track here at the Spa. The five-year-old was last early and came with a seven wide bid but could not get to McKinzie in the stretch, beaten 1 ¾ lengths while nearly five lengths clear of the third-place finisher Vino Rosso. He has not won since winning this race last year. He then went on to by our top pick in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) where he rallied to finish fourth at 14-1, beaten just 1 ¾ lengths. He comes in here off a career top speed fig and is going to get a good pace set up as there is enough early zip signed up the pace should be honest.
The six-year-old tracked the early pace, took command in the stretch and drew away to win the restricted Alydar last out over the main track here at nine furlongs. The third-place finisher Golden Brown returned to win the NJ bred Hesse in his next outing at Monmouth Park on Aug. 25. He was third in the Stephen Foster (G1) two back and ran second to McKinzie three back in the Alysheba (G2). He is perfect in his three trips over the Spa main track, breaking his maiden here in ’16 and winning an optional claimer in ’17 to go along with his win last out in the Alydar. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and should get a good trip sitting just off the pace.
The son of Curlin stalked the early pace, came six wide and finished evenly in a third-place finish in the Whitney last out. The colt won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) two back as our top pick where he beat Gift Box and earned a career top speed fig at 1 ¼ miles. The Pletcher trainee is 0 for 3 over the main track here but he did run well in the Jim Dandy (G2) last summer in a close up third. The blinkers come off and he put in a bullet drill over the main track here on Aug. 23. He should benefit if the pace is strong as expected.
WIN: Yoshida to win at 5-2 or better.
EXACTA: 7,9 / 3,7,8,9
TRIFECTA: 7,9 / 3,7,8,9 / 3,5,7,8,9