Wood Memorial Preview

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues April 6 with the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2), a Championship Series race offering 100-40-20-10 qualifying points to the top-four finishers. Three Wood Memorial contenders enter off Derby prep wins, and those three – Tacitus, Haikal and Tax – are the favorites and contenders at Aqueduct. Eleven three-year-olds go to post with all tested at 1 18 miles for the first time.

1   Tax   J. Alvarado   9-2)
2   Tacitus   J. Ortiz   5-2
3   Hoffa’s Union   D. Davis   6-1
4   Haikal   R. Maragh   7-2
5   Final Jeopardy   M. Franco   8-1
6   Overdeliver   K. Cartouche   20-1
7   Not That Brady   R. Gutierrez   20-1
8   Grumps Little Tots   J. Lezcano   30-1
9   Math Wizard   E. Cancel   30-1
10   Outshine   J. Velazquez   6-1
11   Joevia   N. Juarez   30-1

A highly-pressured pace should favor horses coming from off the pace, and the Bill Mott-trained Tacitus should be farthest back of all. He doesn’t offer value this time after rallying past Outshine to win the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at 8-1 odds in his stakes debut March 9, but he’s still one to include. Haikal won the Gotham Stakes (G3) here last out, coming from off the blistering pace to prevail by a length for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Added ground should be fine and continued improvement in form cycle has him a legitimate contender to include.

Tax is a favorite to toss despite two wins and four in-the-money finishes in four starts for trainer Danny Gargan. He won the Withers Stakes (G3) here February 2 by a head over Not That Brady, but horses exiting recent stakes races with Tax have been defeated by better while not able to duplicate the speed. Tax faces better here and will be a pace presser that fades towards the finish.

Trainer Jason Servis has been high on lightly-raced Final Jeopardy, a Street Sense colt who shows two wins from three starts, including a last-out allowance/optional claiming victory at Gulfstream Park following a layoff. He’ll stalk the leaders and his speed fits with these as he moves up in class and tries two-turns for the first time. Continued improvement has him pushing towards the front at the wire. His stablemate, Grumps Little Tots, has a similar performance pattern and could surprise in the money as a big long shot.

Hoffa’s Union crushed infinitely easier in his two-turn route debut. He steps up big here for trainer Mark Casse, but showed a good work in prep for biggest race.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has a pair of stablemates running, and Overdeliver will be the pace presser trying to assist the potential closing kick of Outshine, who could make a move forward off a runner-up finish in the Tampa Bay Derby and is worth including in exotics.

The Wood Memorial is Race 10 with post time 6 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, April 6, and headlines five graded stakes at Aqueduct.

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