Like Uncle Mo, who finished third in the nine-furlong race, Outwork is owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, who was enjoying his fourth victory in the Wood.
Guided by John Velazquez, Outwork raced in second outside Matt King Coal for the opening seven furlongs. The latter set a quick pace of :22.91, :46.93 and 1:12.31 over a muddy track, and the pair were separated by a head down the backside and around the final turn.
Entering the stretch, Outwork began to shake clear from Matt King Coal, but also began to idle after his early exertion. Drifting toward the inside in the stretch, Outwork was soon challenged by 81-1 longshot Trojan Nation, a maiden invader from California who had advance along the inside turning for home.
Trojan Nation whittled into the lead of Outwork, but the latter held on gamely to win by a head in a time of 1:52.92. The second choice in the field, he paid $6.80.
Outwork earned 100 additional Derby qualifying points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and will head to Churchill Downs in four weeks with a total of 120. He had earned 20 points for a second-place effort in last month's Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
Trojan Nation, who will attempt to become the first maiden Derby winner since Broker's Tip in 1933, earned 40 points for his placing. Finishing third was Adventist, who had occupied the same slot in the Gotham (G3) and Withers (G3), while Matt King Coal tired to fourth. Gotham winner Shagaf, the 19-10 favorite, finished fifth while suffering his first career defeat in four outings.
Outwork, who had captured his first two starts in sprints at Keeneland and Tampa, is out of Nonna Mia, a daughter of 2003 Belmont S. (G1) winner and Kentucky Derby-runner up Empire Maker.
(Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography