The Road to the Kentucky Derby is winding down, with four 100-40-20-10 races left on the schedule. The $750,000 Wood Memorial is one of three races taking place on Saturday, with the Arkansas Derby completing the Championship Series on April 10.
Ten horses have solidly ensured invitations to the first race in the Triple Crown on May 1, with as many as six more in good shape for entry. The next two weekends will determine the 20 horses that compete in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.
The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Park in New York City has been run since 1925 and has traditionally been a premier prep race for the Kentucky Derby. This year's edition features five previous prep race winners, including the 50-20-10-5 Gotham Stakes surprise longshot Weyburn.
Stacked and balanced field at Aqueduct
Weyburn is at 5/1 odds as the 50 qualifying points he earned in the Gotham Stakes ensured his entry into the Kentucky Derby, although his connections had to pay a $6,000 late nomination fee.
Two other entrants in the nine-horse field have recent prep race victories too. Risk Taking won the 10-4-2-1 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on February 6. On the same date, Candy Man Rocket was victorious in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Earlier, Capo Kane won the 10-4-2-1 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on January 1, while Brooklyn Strong took first place in the 10-4-2-1 Remsen Stakes at the same track on December 5.
Candy Man Rocket disappointed with an 11th-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby. Capo Kane finished third in the Withers and then never got close in the Gotham, finishing sixth. Brooklyn Strong and Risk Taking have been idle since their wins.
While the field is filled with winners, there is no clear favorite among them, considering that Weyburn, outside of the purse money, doesn't have the incentive of needing a Kentucky Derby invitation. Risk Taking at 2/1 is the early favorite despite his seven-week layoff.
Even after a four-month rest, Brooklyn Strong opens at 6/1, probably because one of the horses he beat in the Remsen was Florida Derby winner Known Agenda, the third-place finisher.
Candy Man Rocket's failure in his last race has him at 15/1 in the Wood, but with two victories, he could pull a surprise comeback. With 20/1 odds, Capo Kane will need to outperform against the toughest field he's faced to pay off in an upset.
Other possible options
The sixth horse in the field is Prevalance at 5/2, winner of his two career races at Gulfstream, the most recent at one mile as an overwhelming favorite in an allowance contest. He has a limited body of work, but he's shown serious speed and is one of the experts' favorites at the Wood, with the expectation that he can be successful stepping up in class.
Dynamic One, listed at 10/1 odds, broke his maiden on March 7 at Aqueduct and will get some local money thrown his way on race day. Previously, he finished second when Fountain of Youth winner Greatest Honour broke his maiden on December 26 at Gulfstream Park.
Bourbonic at 15/1 and Market Maven at 20/1 are taking big steps up in class in their first prep races. They'll be looking to replicate Weyburn's longshot run at the Gotham Stakes.