2019 Wood Memorial Stakes Cheat Sheet

Racing
Haikal, Tax, and Tacitus (left to right) headline a competitive running of the Wood Memorial Stakes April 6 at Aqueduct. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The 2019 Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets is one of three prep races this weekend offering major qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve and is the final Derby prep in New York. The Grade 2 Wood Memorial awards Derby points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale, guaranteeing the winner and possibly the runner-up a place in the Churchill Downs starting gate.

The Wood also offers a $750,000 purse and has attracted a competitive field of 11 3-year-olds to Aqueduct for the 1 1/8-mile race, including the winners of both local preps in Haikal (winner of the Gotham Stakes) and Tax (winner of the Withers Stakes) as well as Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby victor Tacitus and runner-up Outshine. The race will be televised on NBCSN along with the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby during a broadcast from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET. Post time is set for 6 p.m. ET.

Read on to get to know the entire field, in post-position order and with morning-line odds.


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Tax (9-2)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Danny Gargan

Owners: R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch, and Corms Racing Stable

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $186,300

Earnings per start: $46,575

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Pedigree: Arch – Toll, by Giant’s Causeway

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Tax finished second in his debut and was then claimed for $50,000 from his second start in a seven-way shake, meaning there were seven parties who wanted to buy the colt. Trainer Danny Gargan and his ownership group were the lucky winners, and after impressing in the morning Tax was entered in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, where he finished third last fall. Tax made his sophomore debut in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes, winning that race by a head at the same distance as the Wood Memorial. He has improved his Equibase Speed Figure with each career start and regular rider Junior Alvarado should have him in a prime position to pounce on the leaders as the field enters the stretch. A win or second-place finish should secure him a place in the Kentucky Derby starting gate as he already has 12 qualifying points.


Eclipse Sportswire

2. Tacitus (5-2)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $253,000

Earnings per start: $84,333

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 105

Pedigree: Tapit – Close Hatches, by First Defence

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Closer/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Tacitus is undoubtedly royally bred, and he so far has a race record that might be expected of his pedigree. A son of top sire Tapit and champion Close Hatches, he finished fourth in his career debut but has not been defeated in two starts since, including a 1 ¼-length come-from-behind tally in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.  The effort earned him a 105 Equibase Speed Figure, the highest among this field, and his 50 Kentucky Derby points should already be enough to secure him a place in the run for the roses. A good performance is still likely required for his Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott to continue to Churchill Downs with the colt. Owner Juddmonte Farms won the 2003 Wood Memorial with eventual Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker.


Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

3. Hoffa’s Union (6-1)

Jockey: Dylan Davis

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owners: Gary Barber, Adam Wachtel, and partners

Career record: 1 start – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $22,800

Earnings per start: $22,800

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Pedigree: Union Rags – Malibu Red, by Malibu Moon

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Hoffa’s Union has just one career start, but it was a 15 ½ length domination that garnered his former owners several offers to buy the gelding. His new ownership group includes movie executive Gary Barber and Adam Wachtel, who sent Hoffa’s Union to the barn of Mark Casse in pursuit of Kentucky Derby qualifying points after that February race at Laurel Park. That race was run at about 1 1/16 miles and Hoffa’s Union showed no signs of tiring, boding well for the son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags as the distances continue to stretch out. His impressive Equibase Speed Figure of 103 puts him near the top of this field but he takes a big step up in class here.


Chelsea Durand/NYRA photo

4. Haikal (7-2)

Jockey: Rajiv Maragh

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Owner: Shadwell Stable

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $298,900

Earnings per start: $74,725

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Pedigree: Daaher – Sablah, by Distorted Humor

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Haikal is undefeated as a 3-year-old and has only one loss in his four-race career, finishing second by a neck in his career debut last November. He most recently won the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes to earn 50 Kentucky Derby points, and has most likely already qualified for the May 4 classic. Still, Haikal will need to show he can continue to improve as the distances get longer as he hasn’t raced beyond a mile to date. Haikal is a homebred for Shadwell Stable and is a half-brother to Grade 1 winning sprinter Takaful, who was also trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. McLaughlin won this race in 2015 with Frosted, while jockey Rajiv Maragh won this race two years ago aboard Irish War Cry and in 2014 aboard Wicked Strong.


Leslie Martin/Coglianese photo

5. Final Jeopardy (8-1)

Jockey: Manny Franco

Trainer: Jason Servis

Owners: Gary and Mary West

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $57,750

Earnings per start: $19,250

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Pedigree: Street Sense – Addison Run, by Unbridled’s Song

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Final Jeopardy broke his maiden impressively in his career debut in December and moved up to stakes company for his next start, finishing third in the listed Limehouse Stakes before rebounding with a career-high 97 Equibase speed figure in an allowance win last month. All three starts to date have come at Gulfstream Park. He ships north to Aqueduct in hopes of becoming Gary and Mary West’s third 2019 Kentucky Derby qualifier; they also own champion Game Winner, who has 45 points and a likely spot in the Derby pending the outcome of Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby, while their Maximum Security, also trained by Jason Servis, earned 100 points for his Xpressbet Florida Derby win last week.


Leslie Martin/Coglianese photo

6. Overdeliver (20-1)

Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Repole Stable

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $34,000

Earnings per start: $17,000

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Pedigree: Overanalyze – Social Scene, by Tabasco Cat

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Overdeliver won his debut in late December and moved up to stakes competition in his next start, finishing second in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by 7 ¼ lengths in January after a less than ideal start, but topping his initial speed figure by 11 points. He makes his first start outside of Florida here, heading to New York’s biggest Derby prep for New York native Mike Repole’s Repole Stable. Repole campaigned Overdeliver’s sire, Overanalyze, who was also trained by Pletcher, and together Pletcher and Repole have won two editions of the Wood Memorial including last year with Vino Rosso (co-owned by Repole and St. Elias Stable). Pletcher has also won this race three other times.


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

7. Not That Brady (20-1)

Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez

Trainer: Rudy Rodriguez

Owners: Michael Imperio, Lianna Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Rudy Rodriguez

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $158,900

Earnings per start: $22,700

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Pedigree: Big Brown – Lisa’s Booby Trap, by Drewman

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Not That Brady toiled in the first two starts of his career before stringing together two wins and two runner-up finishes when stretched out to a mile or more, culminating in a head defeat at 1 1/8 miles to Tax in the Withers Stakes. His streak ended in the Gotham last month when he finished a very well-beaten eighth, but he may have been compromised in that race due to a quarter crack he was recovering from. He returns to 1 1/8 miles here without any reported issues, and regular jockey Reylu Gutierrez retains the mount. If he runs to or better than his career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure he can compete with the best of this field. 


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

8. Grumps Little Tots (30-1)

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: Jason Servis

Owners: Michael Dubb, Coyle Boys Stable, and Bethlehem Stables

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $63,600

Earnings per start: $15,900

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 95

Pedigree: Sky Mesa – W W American, by Quiet American

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Grumps Little Tots finished third last August in his career debut behind eventual Grade 1 winner Mind Control and has shown flashes of talent since, most recently breaking his maiden by 6 ½ lengths at Aqueduct. He’ll need to improve by at least 10 speed figure points to make an impact here. The gelding is one of two Wood entrants trained by Jason Servis, who is looking for his first win in the race.


Bob Coglianese/Gulfstream Park

9. Math Wizard (30-1)

Jockey: Eric Cancel

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Owners: John Fanelli, Collarmele Vitelli Stables, Bassett Stables, Ioannis Zoumas, Wynwood Thoroughbreds and Saffie Joseph Jr.

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $39,873

Earnings per start: $5,696

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92

Pedigree: Algorithms – Minister’s Baby, by Deputy Minister

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Math Wizard has changed hands via the claim box three times already in his young career, an indicator that he has shown some promise. He was claimed after he broke his maiden by 6 ¾ lengths three starts ago and followed that up with a resounding 18 ½ length victory from which he was claimed again. His current owners raced him in a starter optional claiming race, where he finished second by a length and a half but improved his Equibase Speed Figure by three points to a career-best 92. His speed figures took a 10 point jump when he stretched out to a mile, but they remain 10-15 points below where he needs to be to win this race. None of his connections have won this race before, and trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. is looking for his first career graded stakes win.


Chelsea Durand/NYRA photo

10. Outshine (6-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: Let’s Go Stable, Richard Schibell and Madaket Stables

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $150,900

Earnings per start: $37,725

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Pedigree: Malibu Moon – Life Lesson, by Unbridled’s Song

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A $625,000 yearling purchase, Outshine made two starts in May and June of last year but was then shelved until 2019. He made the most of his 3-year-old debut, winning by two lengths, and made his first graded stakes appearance in his next start, the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, where he rallied well but was outkicked by winner Tacitus to finish second. Outshine earned 20 Kentucky Derby points and would need to finish no worse than third here to add at least 20 more and secure a comfortable position on the Derby points leaderboard. Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez have partnered to win the Wood Memorial on four occasions, including last year with Vino Rosso. Pletcher also won it a fifth time with a different jockey.


Elsa Lorieul/NYRA photo

11. Joevia (30-1)

Jockey: Nik Juarez

Trainer: Gregory Sacco

Owners: Michael Fazio and Jeff Fazio

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $71,600

Earnings per start: $23,867

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Pedigree: Shanghai Bobby – Peace Process, by War Front

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Joevia won his career debut and has finished second in two starts since, including a neck defeat to Haikal in the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes in February. Expected to be joined by Not That Brady, Hoffa’s Image, and Overdeliver on the front end, the son of young sire Shanghai Bobby will need to show a willingness to relax and the stamina to maintain his speed as he runs in his longest race to date. A win here would be the first Wood Memorial victory for owners Michael Fazio and Jeff Fazio, trainer Gregory Sacco, and jockey Nik Juarez.

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