Like other recent Kentucky Derby (G1) preps, Saturday’s $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct sees its likely favorite inconveniently starting from a less-than-desirable post. Hit Show, who dominated in the track-and-distance Withers (G3) back in February, will break from post 12 in the 1 1/8-mile fixture which concludes an 11-race card.
An authoritative winner in three of four starts for Brad Cox, Hit Show enters the Wood with plenty of momentum. Even his lone defeat, as the favorite in an allowance at Churchill Downs in November, was no disgrace in retrospect. Finishing first and second that day were Confidence Game and Rocket Can, who respectively went on to capture the Rebel (G2) and Holy Bull (G3).
Cox will also be represented by Slip Mahoney, who overcame a slow start and a wide trip to finish a distant second in the one-mile Gotham (G3) last month, which was contested over a muddy surface. Although he’s never been around two turns, Slip Mahoney should relish the extra ground as a son of the late Arrogate and Spinster (G1) winner Got Lucky.
Arctic Arrogance‘s distance limitations perhaps have already been proven by his second-place finishes in the Remsen (G2), Jerome S., and Withers, two of which were over nine panels. Shadow Dragon was a close second to stablemate Rocket Can in the Holy Bull, but made little impact in the Fountain of Youth (G2) last time when a distant fifth to Forte.
Todd Pletcher, in search of a record eighth Wood win and third consecutive, starts recent Gulfstream allowance winner Classic Catch as well as an interesting pair of maidens. Dreamlike, a son of Gun Runner, has run respectably fast in two narrow losses, while Crupi missed by a head to Slip Mahoney prior to running seventh in the Risen Star (G2).
The Wood Memorial will award Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 100-40-30-20-10 to the respective top five finishers.
It might be hard to keep Chad Brown out of the winner’s circle of the $250,000 Gazelle (G3) for three-year-old fillies as the prolific conditioner saddles likely favorite Occult and probable second choice Shidabhuti in the field of six.
Although she enters the 1 1/8-mile test off of a layoff approaching three months, Occult was a comfortable winner of the Jan. 14 Busanda S. over this distance, defeating Gambling Girl and recent Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Affirmative Lady.
Shidabhuti, meanwhile, enters on a win streak of her own. Victorious in all three starts, she rallied to win the one-mile Busher S. by two lengths over a muddy strip last month.
Frosty O Toole debuts for Todd Pletcher after back-to-back overnight wins at Tampa Bay Downs. Busher third Capella and recent maiden graduate Promiseher America round out the field.
The Gazelle will award Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points of 100-40-30-20-10 to the respective top five finishers.
Repo Rocks will look to extend his win streak to five races in the $300,000 Carter H. (G1) over seven furlongs. Undefeated since joining the Parx-based Jamie Ness barn in November, Repo Rocks romped to victories in the Toboggan (G3) and Stymie S. earlier this winter at the Big A.
White Abarrio captured a key Gulfstream allowance on March 4, his first victory since the 2022 Florida Derby (G1). The gray ran well at Aqueduct in December, finishing third by a half-length in the Cigar Mile (G1).
Also lining up are Tom Fool H. (G3) winner Little Vic and the lightly-raced Expressman from the barn of Todd Pletcher.