Here are three takeaways from the Wood Memorial.
Bourbonic was as big a surprise as it comes. The former claimer appeared overmatched, exiting a well-beaten second in an entry-level allowance at Parx. And the confirmed closer received a terrible setup, biding his time in last behind a dawdling opening six furlongs in 1:14.98.
A Calumet homebred Bernardini colt, Bourbonic didn’t start to make headway until the conclusion of the far turn, swinging extremely wide into the stretch, and he motored through the final sixteenth of a mile to get up by a head on the wire.
Bourbonic received a 109 Brisnet Late Pace rating.
After notching his first Grade 1 win aboard Calumet’s True Timber in December’s Cigar Mile H., Kendrick Carmouche achieved another career highlight. Calumet won the Wood Memorial for the first time in the race’s 97-year history. Todd Pletcher inched closer to Hall of Fame trainer “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons’s record (seven wins), saddling his sixth Wood winner.
Pletcher runners advance; Weyburn to aim for Belmont Stakes
Pletcher also send out Dynamic One, who sustained a tough beat finishing second.
The last-out maiden winner surged from just off the pace to a clear lead in upper stretch, and appeared home free after turning back a serious challenge from eventual third-placer Crowded Trade, but could not hold off his stablemate from the clouds.
By Union Rags, Dynamic One broke his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths when stretching out to 1 1/8 miles in early March, and the chestnut colt is progressing nicely at longer distances.
Pletcher now has four runners inside the top 20 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Known Agenda is safely in the mix after winning the Florida Derby (G1), and Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) runner-up Sainthood sits 20th in the standings with 40 points.
Crowded Trade, who currently ranks 19th, is expected to bypass the Kentucky Derby after coming up a little short in his last two starts. Gotham S. (G3) victor Weyburn checked in fourth on Saturday, increasing his point total to 60, but Allen Jerkens indicated the sophomore would likely point to the Belmont Stakes (G1) instead of the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Derby futility may continue
It’s been 18 years since the Wood Memorial produced a Kentucky Derby winner (Funny Cide), and it did not look like a strong edition in 2021.
Bourbonic registered only a 94 Brisnet Speed rating, which will be one of the lowest last-out numbers in the Kentucky Derby field.
The winner’s late run was visually impressive, but Kentucky Oaks contender Search Results ran faster (1:54.14) in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle S. G3) a few races earlier behind slower opening fractions (six furlongs in 1:15.06).