Wood Memorial – Race 10 at Aqueduct – Post Time 5:58 PM Eastern
Weyburn was disregarded by bettors at 46 to 1 odds one month ago in the Gotham Stakes but proved to be an exceptionally tough competitor when winning by a nose. After attending the pace only a half-length behind the leader for the first half-mile, Weyburn engaged for the lead for the rest of the race, first battling head and head with Freedom Fighter then battling nose and nose the entire last eighth of a mile with Crowded Trade. That effort occurring one month ago leads me to believe he will not regress and will move forward to run even better in the Wood Memorial. Considering Weyburn earned a career-best 105 Equibase Speed Figure , tied for best in the field with Crowded Trade, it would take significant improvement by any other runner (except Crowded Trade) to run faster than Weyburn demonstrating logical improvement in his second start following three months off. As such, Weyburn gets slight preference among two horses I feel stand out against the rest in terms of their probability to win this race.
Crowded Trade has no knocks, having won in his career debut at the end of January before stepping into stakes company in the Gotham Stakes last month and giving it his all. Third place Gotham finisher Highly Motivated is looking for different scenery this weekend and will run in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. With no other horse having run as fast as either Crowded Trade (or Weyburn) who earned a 105 figure in the Gotham, this lightly raced colt making his third career start has significant improving he can do and must be considered a strong contender to win. As to his breeding to run this nine furlong trip, there’s no doubt as a son of More Than Ready that is not an issue as the sire’s Catholic Boy won graded stakes at a mile and one-quarter. Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by red hot Eric Cancel, Crowded Trade has every right to turn the tables on Weyburn in their second meeting and move on to the Kentucky Derby in fine form.
Prevalence, like Crowded Trade, has only run twice, and likewise his second race was a one-turn mile in which he ran impressively. After winning his debut by eight lengths in handy fashion with a 99 figure, Prevalence won his second start just as easily by three lengths with a 98 figure but likely could have gone faster. Perhaps more importantly, after he crossed the finish line it was noted by the astute chart caller for Equibase that Prevalence was “urged past the wire for an eighth of a mile or so past the finish.” This is significant, as it shows a plan beforehand between jockey Tyler Gaffalione (who rides in the Wood) and trainer Brendan Walsh (who trained top three year old Maxfield last year) to give the colt experience at running the distance of his next race. Being a son of Medaglia d’Oro, who sired tremendous stakes winners like Songbird and Wonder Gadot, if Prevalence got the foundation for this race as intended, improving enough to win the Wood Memorial is not out of the question.
I have a couple of issues with some others in here, including morning line favorite Risk Taking, so I thought I’d share why.
Brooklyn Strong won the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes over the track at the distance of the Wood Memorial, but it may be a tall order to pick up where he left off following four months on the bench and versus horses which all ran much more recently. Candy Man Rocket won the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes in February before an 11th of 12 finish in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and it may be a stretch to go from next-to-last in that recent race to a top competitor in the Wood Memorial. Risk Taking comes back from two months off after winning the Withers Stakes in February. Although the 102 figure earned in that race may be competitive with the top horses in the Wood if he improves on it, the fact that he skipped the Gotham and most of his opponents ran more recently gives me pause.
Win: Weyburn and Crowded Trade should be bet to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
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Box Weyburn and Crowded Trade.
Box Weyburn, Crowded Trade and Prevalence.