Wood Memorial S. (G1) winner TOBY'S CORNER (Bellamy Road) took the $600,000 first prize on Saturday at Aqueduct and shipped back to his home base at Fair Hill in Maryland the night of the race. With Spiral S. (G3) winner Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]), trainer Graham Motion now has two strong prospects for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1).
"I wasn't expecting (Toby's Corner) to beat Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie); the horse was so hyped up," Motion admitted. "He's a steady, improving horse who needed the distance, and the mile-and-an-eighth and the blinkers were a good combination for him."
Toby's Corner overcame a demanding journey to win the Wood. The race chart footnotes describe him as "buried behind and amongst rivals on the far turn...forced to pause once again as the field approached the quarter-pole...altered course outward just past the three-sixteenths pole."
"He had a kind of a Derby-type experience yesterday," Motion said of the race, which Toby's Corner won in a time of 1:49 4/5, beating Arthur's Tale (Bernardini) by a neck and Uncle Mo by a little more than a length.
Owner/breeder Dianne Cotter and Motion had never once spoken of the Kentucky Derby before the Wood, the trainer said, but on Saturday, after the victory over Uncle Mo, the subject finally came up.
"She just asked me if we were going, and I said we were," Motion said. "I just didn't want to do this for the sake of it. I wanted this horse to take me there."
Motion said Toby's Corner will train up to the Kentucky Derby on the Tapeta surface at Fair Hill and ship in late to Churchill Downs.
Click here to see video from Saturday's post-race press conference with the winning connections of Toby's Corner.