Racing News

Fun facts about the Wood Memorial entrants

  • Alpha and Sadler (Photo courtesy of NYRA)

The field is set for Saturday's 88th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, and NYRA released some facts about the eight starters that won't be found in their past performances.

Gemologist, who is the 8-5 morning-line favorite, gets his name through his mother's side of the family -- his dam was Crystal Shard, whose sire was Mr. Prospector. The colt is described by trainer Todd Pletcher as being a consummate professional, talented, reliable, always giving 100 percent.

"If I had to pick an athlete to compare him to," said the trainer, "it would have to be Derek Jeter."

Alpha is good friends with assistant trainer Andrew St. Lawrence's 10-year-old Golden Retriever, Sadler. The son of Bernardini is friendly, sociable and enjoys being hand-fed from his hay rack. The 5-2 second pick on the Wood morning-line occupies the same stall in trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's barn as 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor.

Street Life's favorite trick is to stick out his tongue on command and the dark bay colt's name comes from his breeding, as he is a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. He is co-owned by Bob and Janice McNair, who will be going for their third victory in the Wood Memorial, having won in 2001 with Congaree and in 2006 with Bob and John.

The Lumber Guy is named after Thoroughbred owner Aaron Jones, who made his fortune in the lumber business in Oregon. Orphaned a day after his birth, The Lumber Guy was raised by a special "nurse mare." Aptly enough, the undefeated son of Grand Slam scored his first stakes victory came in the Miracle Wood at Laurel Park.           

My Adonis was named after owner George Hall's father, who pledged to become an "Adonis" after being diagnosed with cancer. The Pleasantly Perfect sophomore's jockey, Elvis Trujillo, was named for singing legend Elvis Presley. Owners George and Lori Hall won the biggest race for three-year-olds at Belmont Park last year when Ruler on Ice upset the Belmont Stakes.

Teeth of the Dog is named after an iconic Pete Dye-designed golf course at Casa de Campo which is near La Romana, Dominican Republic. Owner Jose Singer's house overlooks the 15th hole of the course.

"His name is the meanest thing about him," trainer Michael Matz said of the Bluegrass Cat colt. "He's really quite gentle and kind."

Teeth of the Dog's stall in Florida is right next to that of Union Rags, one of the leading candidates this year for the Kentucky Derby.

Tiger Walk's name was inspired by the Tiger Walk, the signature event of Auburn's pre-game ritual where Auburn players walk to the football stadium through a phalanx of fans lined up along Donohue Drive. Owner Kevin Plank's company, Under Amour, outfits the Auburn football team. Trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Correas says the Tale of the Cat colt is a nice horse to be around, but very tough to gallop in the mornings.

"If it was up to him, he would two-minute lick every day," Correas explained. "That's the thing you have to be careful of with him, he'd like to go fast on long gallops."

Casual Trick gets his name from his breeding, as his dam is a daughter of Red Ransom named Casual Look. Trainer Nick Zito describes the Bernardini colt as playful.

"When he's being walked, he likes to play with his lead shank. A lot. Kind of like a dog playing with his leash," Zito remarked.