There are three Derby prep races today, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, the Blue Grass at Keeneland, and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita. Let’s go through the races, and we’ll start here with the Wood Memorial.
1 – Glenrichment (15-1) – This Rudy Rodriguez trainee rode a gold rail to victory on March 5th and would need to take another huge step forward to compete here.
2 – Mo Town (6-1) – He won the Remsen over this track in November but that was has not proven to be strong, with numerous horses disappointing out of it, including Mo Town, who did not run well at all in the Risen Star. He does lure Javier Castellano (why didn’t he want to ride Cloud Computing?) but of the main contenders, he is the one we are least interested in.
3 – Battalion Runner (2-1) – This Todd Pletcher trainee has been waiting for today since his allowance win over Beasley at Gulfstream on February 3rd (Beasley was up the track in the Tampa Bay Derby but emerged from the race injured so I wouldn’t hold that against Battalion Runner). However, he’s had very good trips in his races, and last time benefited from being outside of Beasley stalking the moderate pace. He can obviously win, but as the favorite, feels like an underlay.
4 – Bonus Points (20-1) – Another from Todd Pletcher, he was a distant fourth in the Withers on February 4th and none of his other races were especially impressive either. He’d be a big surprise.
5 – True Timber (12-1) – He was a thorn in the side of El Areeb and Cloud Computing in the Gotham, forging a very fast pace which ultimately set things up for J Boys Echo. With El Areeb on the shelf, his chances improve a bit, but there are speed horses to his outside to keep the pace honest.
6 – Stretch’s Stone (15-1) – Bruce Levine sends out this NY-bred for his stakes debut after he was placed first in a NY-bred allowance race last time. The horse that was disqualified, Mr. Buff, came back to win last week with an 88 Beyer. Stretch’s Stone, however, is by Bustin Stones, so 9 furlongs might not be his best distance and he’s going to have to either hold on wiring the field or stalk and outfinish. He’s a longshot.
7 – Cloud Computing (5-2) – We’re big fans of this horse. He ran a huge race in his debut after missing the break and rallying for a win. Then in the Gotham, he was on a very fast pace, which fell apart, and finished best of the speed horses, run down late by the perfect-trip winner J Boys Echo. He gets more rest today (he had only three weeks rest last time but four today) and is the pick to get his first stakes win today.
8 – Irish War Cry (7-2) – We’re rooting for this Jersey-bred but there are reasons to be a skeptical. In the Fountain of Youth, he was rated just off a very fast pace and stopped badly. Yes, the pace was fast, but Three Rules held on for third and he was setting the pace. He’ll likely be sent to the lead today, but he’ll have to work with some other speed drawn to his inside. Plus, his best race, the Holy Bull, was a product of setting a very slow pace in ideal circumstances.
The Pace – It should be pretty solid, with Irish War Cry, True Timber and Stretch’s Stone likely going and Battallion Runner won’t be far behind. Cloud Computing will likely be up close and just off the pace as well.
The Pick – Cloud Computing is the pick and we’d bet him at 3-1 but unless they go overboard on Battalion Runner, that seems unlikely. The best way to play this race might be in the double, where we like Lockdown in the next race, the Gazelle.