Racing News

Gemologist clocks five-eighths in final work for Wood

  • Gemologist (Adam Coglianese Photography)

Undefeated Gemologist turned in his final serious work for Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial Stakes Sunday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center, breezing five furlongs in 1:00 2/5. Exercise rider Hector Ramos was aboard for the move, the fastest of six workouts at the distance.

"I was really, really pleased," said Todd Pletcher, who trains the homebred son of Tiznow for WinStar Farm, by telephone. "He was going well, in hand, throughout."

Winner of all three of his 2011 starts, including the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on November 26, Gemologist returned to the races on March 16 at Gulfstream Park, going wire-to-wire in posting a seven-length allowance victory over Grade 1 Hopeful winner Currency Swap. His time for the mile was 1:35 4/5 on that day.

"We came in with high hopes this winter, as he was undefeated as a two-year-old with two wins at Churchill Downs," Pletcher admitted. "Because his return was delayed, he might have been a little under the radar for some, but certainly not for us. From a conditioning standpoint, I thought he got exactly what he needed (out of the comeback race). Hopefully, he continues moving forwardly."

Pletcher said Gemologist was scheduled to be flown from Florida to New York on Wednesday for the 1 1/8-mile Wood, the centerpiece of Saturday's 11-race card at Aqueduct.

Also turning in his final preparations for the Wood Sunday morning was Broad Brush Stakes winner Street Life. Under Junior Alvarado, the Street Sense colt breezed a half-mile in :48 over Belmont Park's training track -- the co-second fastest of 43 at the distance -- and galloped out in 1:00 3/5.

"He did it easy, in hand, no problem," said Cherie DeVaux, assistant to trainer Chad Brown. "He breezes faster than he runs; he's got it figured out. He knows what he's doing. And, he came back well."

Unraced as a juvenile, Street Life finished eighth in his debut at Gulfstream Park in January before joining Brown's New York string. He then made a pair of starts around two turns on the inner track, coming from far back to earn his diploma on February 11 and closing from midpack to take the Broad Brush overnight stakes on March 17. He is owned by Magnolia Racing Stable and Hidden Brook Farm, with the former having bought into the colt following his maiden win.

Barry Schwartz's The Lumber Guy, who will be making his third career start in the Wood Memorial, turned in a 1:01 4/5 five-furlong breeze on Sunday over Belmont's training track.

"He went in 1:01 and change and did most of it the last three-eighths of a mile, and the gallop out was good," trainer Michael Hushion commented. "He went out in 1:16. I thought it was fine. I'm happy with it. I think we're going to give (the Wood) a try."

The Lumber Guy is unbeaten and untested so far in his brief career, having debuted a 9 1/4-length winner at Aqueduct on January 28 and taking Laurel Park's Miracle Wood Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths on February 25. The Wood Memorial will be his first start beyond seven furlongs, but Hushion is willing to take a shot based off what he has seen from his protégé.

"He's just a man, kind of at the level where you'd like them to be -- strong, a little bit of a bully, and he eats real good," Hushion explained. "That's the way you want a horse like that to be, but he's not over the top either. He's a nice horse to train."

California Chrome Cruises to Victory in 140th Kentucky Derby before Crowd of 164,906

Steven Coburn and Perry Martin's favored California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took command at the head of the stretch en route to a 1 3/4-length victory over Commanding Curve to win the 140th running of the $2,202,800 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I). A sun-splashed crowd of 164,906, the second-largest attendance in Kentucky Derby history, watched California Chrome give jockey Victor Espinoza a second Derby victory to go with his triumph on War Emblem in 2002.

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