Racing News

Gemologist, Alpha top Wood Memorial

  • Gemologist's lone stakes outing was a winning one in the Kentucky Jockey Club (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

One year after watching Uncle Mo's undefeated record go up in flames in the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial, trainer Todd Pletcher will hope for an entirely different result when undefeated Gemologist takes to the track for Aqueduct's 1 1/8-mile classic prep on Saturday. Gemologist is one of eight sophomores who'll vie for the $600,000 winner's share, which will guarantee a starting position in next month's Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

The Wood Memorial will be just the second race of the year for Gemologist, a son of Tiznow who enters with a four-for-four mark. Unlike most Pletcher trainees, the WinStar Farm-owned colt raced exclusively in Kentucky as a juvenile, breaking his maiden at Turfway Park and then winning twice during the Churchill Downs Fall meet. The latter of those two wins came in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, a race won by WinStar's Super Saver in 2009 en route to Kentucky Derby glory.

Making a belated season debut in an open one-mile allowance at Gulfstream on March 16, Gemologist led from the start and drew off impressively to score by seven lengths over Grade 1 Hopeful winner Currency Swap. Gemologist will be ridden in the Wood Memorial by regular pilot Javier Castellano.

After declaring him from various other Derby preps, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin finally settled on the Wood as the final classic tune-up for Alpa, a son of Bernardini campaigned by Godolphin. Alpha made short work of his rivals in Aqueduct's first two major stakes for three-year-olds, the Count Fleet and the Grade 3 Withers. The odds-on choice in both inner-track tests, Alpa won by 2 1/2 lengths in the Count Fleet and 3 1/4 lengths in the Withers.

After bypassing the Grade 3 Gotham, won by champion Hansen, Alpa was considered for the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, but McLaughlin ultimately felt the path of least resistance to Louisville was a return to New York for the Wood, where he will be guided by Ramon Dominguez.

My Adonis, third in the Grade 3 Holy Bull and second to Hansen in the Gotham, figures to get a piece of the purse with a continuation of his present form, while New York-bred The Lumber Guy will attempt to extend his brilliance around two turns for the first time. A 9 1/4-length debut winner in state-bred company, The Lumber Guy most recently went to Laurel and crushed the opposition by 4 1/4 lengths in the seven-furlong Miracle Wood.

Nick Zito, who has saddled previous Wood winners Thirty Six Red (1990), Adonis (1999) and Bellamy Road (2005), sends out Casual Trick on Saturday. A close second to eventual Florida Derby runner-up Reveron in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year's Day, the Bernardini ridgling lost his next two starts by a combined margin of more than 50 lengths. Zito said this week that Casual Trick flipped his palate in both starts and has since had a corrective procedure to combat the problem.

Tiger Walk, third in the Withers and fourth in the Gotham, will need to quicken in order to turn the tables on Alpha and My Adonis, who have finished ahead of him this term. Street Life, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, enters off an overnight stakes win in the March 17 Broad Brush on the inner dirt, while Michael Matz will saddle Teeth of the Dog, a last-out maiden winner at Gulfstream over nine furlongs.

Los Alamitos Futurity Added to 2014-15 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' Series

The $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (Grade I) has been added to the list of races that comprise the 2014-15 “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” The series of 35 select races – 19 “Prep Season” races and 16 “Championship Series” races – will determine which horses qualify to the 141st running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby.

Global View Nips Storming Inti at Wire to Win 23rd Running of Grade II American Turf

Glen Hill Farm's Global View caught Storming Inti in the closing strides

Midnight Lucky Romps in 28th Running of Grade I Humana Distaff

Midnight Lucky, making her first start in more than 11 months, took the lead out of the gate

Coffee Clique Catches Dame Marie Late to Win 29th Running of Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile

Coffee Clique squeezed through an opening along the hedge

California Chrome Wins America’s Greatest Race

164,906 fans pack historic Churchill Downs

Updates Powered by

Visit for expert handicapping, picks and analysis Derby Week and all year long

Derby Stories

Lindsay & Els Chicago, IL

First time at the Oaks so that's why we have these crazy hats on, shaped like cheese hats and painted pink in honor of Bright Pink, which is a great charity.
Paula's picking California Chrome

Kentucky Derby 140 presented by Yum! - The Race

Kentucky Derby 140 - Road to the Derby

Kentucky Derby 140 Intro

Around the Downs - The Stables

The Race

54 Photos


California Chrome is attempting to become only the fourth California-bred, Kentucky Derby winner in history and the first since Decidedly in 1962.