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Gotham top three could renew rivalry in Wood; Buddy's Saint scheduled to breeze
The top three finishers from Saturday's Gotham S. (G3) -- AWESOME ACT (Awesome Again), YAWANNA TWIST (Yonaguska) and NACHO FRIEND (Friends Lake), respectively -- could all square off once again at Aqueduct in the April 3 Wood Memorial S. (G1).
Gotham winner Awesome Act was bright and energetic in his stall at Belmont Park Sunday morning following his successful dirt debut.
"He'll be back cantering at least by Wednesday, possibly Tuesday," said Wayne Tanner, assistant to English trainer Jeremy Noseda, who returned to Newmarket following the colt's 1 1/4-length victory. "We won't do much between now and then -- just keep him sound and head to the Wood."
Tanner, along with George Windsor, will oversee the colt's preparations for the 1 1/8-mile Wood, New York's last major prep for the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1).
"He's a real professional," Tanner said of Awesome Act. "He travels for pleasure. If he's traveling behind, whoever is in front of him, he'll pass. It takes a good one to get him off the bridle."
Awesome Act, who carved out a beautiful trip for himself from off the pace in the Gotham, did not have the smoothest trip to New York. His original flight from England last week was canceled due to bad weather. Finally arriving in New York on Wednesday, he had only a brief tour around the training track at Belmont Park on Friday after being released from quarantine prior to the race.
"He basically walked up to the race," Tanner said. "The two days in quarantine really didn't bother him at all."
Trainer Rick Dutrow said Sunday morning that he was very happy with the Gotham performance of New York-bred Yawanna Twist, who closed five-wide from sixth to finish a strong second.
The Gotham was not only the first stakes appearance and first in open company for Yawanna Twist, but it was also his first around two turns. His first two victories had come against New York-breds by a combined winning margin of nearly 10 lengths.
"We're pleased with him," Dutrow said from Florida. "He came out of the race well, and we're definitely considering the Wood."
Trainer Kelly Breen said that the Wood was also under consideration for third-place finisher Nacho Friend, who finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Yawanna Twist.
"We'll take it one day at a time with him," said Breen of Nacho Friend, who was making his first start since finishing fourth in the Sanford S. (G2) at Saratoga last July. "The Wood is a possibility for him."
In other Wood Memorial news, multiple Grade 2 victor BUDDY'S SAINT (Saint Liam), who wound up ninth after being slammed on the first turn in the February 20 Fountain of Youth S. (G2), will breeze five furlongs Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
"He rebounded nicely," trainer Bruce Levine said of Buddy's Saint, who was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the Fountain of Youth. "He'll breeze Saturday, probably breeze twice more after that, and return to New York the week before the Wood."
The dominating winner of the Nashua S. (G2) and Remsen S. (G2) last fall at Aqueduct, Buddy's Saint was making his sophomore debut in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream. Shut off going into the first turn and bounced around after encountering traffic problems, he was ultimately beaten a total of 22 1/4 lengths by the impressive Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway).
Another three-year-old on the comeback trail is maiden romper EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY (Forest Camp), who bolted on the first turn of the February 6 Whirlaway S. at Aqueduct and ran through the rail before returning to the barn area.
Eightyfiveinafifty breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.03 over Aqueduct's inner track on Thursday morning, his first timed workout since the Whirlaway. The Gary Contessa colt turned in the fastest of 11 moves at the distance that day.
"He worked great," Contessa said. "I really don't have plans for him. We're nominated to everything -- the Wood, the Derby Trial ([G3] at Churchill Downs on April 24), everything -- but I want to work him twice more before I make a decision. That's his norm though -- he goes in a minute and he does it so easy."
Eightyfiveinafifty, who finished third to subsequent Hopeful S. (G1) winner Dublin (Afleet Alex) in a Saratoga maiden last summer, trounced Aqueduct maiden foes by 17 1/4 lengths in his second career start on January 9.