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The Lumber Guy drills five furlongs despite quarter crack
Barry Schwartz's undefeated homebred, The Lumber Guy, recently outfitted with a patch for a quarter crack, zipped five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 this morning over the fast training track at Belmont Park in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 7 at Aqueduct, which would be only his third career start. It was the second fastest of 14 moves at the distance.
"He worked well this morning," trainer Mike Hushion said of the gray New York-bred. "We're still looking at the Wood. He's probably going to run."
Hoof specialist Ian McKinlay repaired the quarter crack earlier this week, Hushion added. The colt sustained a grabbed quarter on his left front hoof during his 4 1/4-length victory in the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park on February 25.
"He had a little glitch, but he's back on schedule, and right now, we're going to give (the Wood) a try," Hushion said.
The 1 1/8-mile Wood would be the first two-turn race for The Lumber Guy, a front-running 9 1/4-length winner of his debut at the Big A on January 28. The Grand Slam colt's 1:10 1/5 for the six furlongs earned him a 99 BRIS Speed figure and a spot on NYRA's "New York Watch" list, which spotlights promising colts and fillies that have recently cleared the maiden ranks at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.
"I'd rather take a mini-step first time two turns, but we're talking about the Wood so sometimes you do things you wouldn't ordinarily do," Hushion said. "His race in Maryland was pretty straightforward. He came out of the gate, stumbled, took off, and said goodbye."
A rider has yet to be determined to pilot The Lumber Guy in the Wood.
Grade 3 Withers winner Alpha came out of Saturday's five-furlong breeze at Palm Meadows in great shape, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he is in the midst of finalizing plans to ship the Bernardini colt to New York for the Wood.
"There's a flight to New York on April 4, but that's a little close to the race," the trainer acknowledged. "There might be another one going up on (March 30). We'll figure it out in the next day or two.
"He's in great shape," McLaughlin added. "He'll definitely be there."
Alpha, who covered five furlongs in 1:00 4/5, second-fastest of 19 at the distance, will enter the Wood off a pair of victories on Aqueduct's inner dirt in the Withers and Count Fleet Stakes.
The Todd Pletcher barn plans to send out Gemologist in the Wood Memorial. The WinStar Farm colorbear is expected to fly from Florida to New York on April 4, Pletcher confirmed via text message. The Tiznow colt is unbeaten in four starts and enters the Wood off victories in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in November at Churchill Downs and in a Gulfstream Park allowance on March 16.
There will be free general admission to the Big A on April 7, Wood Memorial Day, with a $3 charge to access the Skyline/Equestris area on the third floor, the same as last year. Admission gates open at 11 a.m. (EDT) with first race post time at 12:50 p.m.
In addition to the Wood and Grade 1 Carter, the 11-race card will feature the Grade 3 Comely for three-year-old fillies and the Grade 3 Bay Shore for three-year-old sprinters. There will also be a guaranteed $500,000 Late Pick 4.