2019 Woodward Stakes Cheat Sheet

Racing
Yoshida won the 2018 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga and headlines a competitive field lined up for this year’s renewal on Aug. 31. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The $750,000, Grade 1 Woodward Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets is the closing Saturday showcase event at Saratoga’s summer meet.

The 1 1/8-mile Woodward is not a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series automatic qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but the race is still an important prep for the Classic and has historical significance in its own right, having been won by legends such as Kelso (three years in a row), Damascus, Forego (four years in a row), Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid (in a walkover), Cigar (twice in a row), Ghostzapper, Curlin, and Rachel Alexandra (10 years ago as the first filly to win the race).

This year’s 66th running of the Woodward drew eight horses and will be broadcast live on FS2 as part of NYRA’s “Saratoga Live” program presented by Runhappy, Claiborne Farm, and America’s Best Racing, and also on TVG. For more information, click here.

Whether you are interested in making a couple of bucks on the race or just want to know a little bit about this year’s runners, we’ve got you covered with our 2019 Woodward Stakes Cheat Sheet.


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

1. Mr. Buff (8-1)

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: John Kimmel

Owners: Chester and Mary Broman

Career record: 30 starts – 10 wins – 6 seconds – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $678,786

Earnings per start: $22,626

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: Friend Or Foe – Speightful Affair, by Speightstown

Color: Chestnut

Age: 5

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: In a Woodward field that, on paper, is largely devoid of speed, this workmanlike gelding deserves a look. He enters Saturday’s race off of two consecutive dominant wins in stakes races restricted to New York-breds: a 6 ¼-length score in the June 30 Saginaw Stakes at Belmont; and a 3 ½-length win in the Aug. 7 Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga. In those races, he raced to the lead early and was never threatened. Overall, Mr. Buff has been racing well for more than a year, winning seven of 11 starts since August 2018 – although it must be noted that his one poor performance came when elevated to open graded stakes company in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 23. He pressed the pace through the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile race but fell back entering the stretch and stopped. He was walked off by jockey Junior Alvarado. Once back in New York and competing against fellow state-breds, the gelding has circled back to his best form. Obviously, he’ll face a class test even greater than the one he did in New Orleans on Saturday, but he’s 2-for-4 lifetime at Saratoga and has six career wins at 1 1/8 miles – both big positives. Alvarado has been aboard Mr. Buff for his prior five starts but will ride Preservationist in the Woodward. Trainer John Kimmel won the 2006 Woodward with Premium Tap.


Chelsea Durand/NYRA

2. Bal Harbour (15-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Red Oak Stable

Career record: 16 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $388,755

Earnings per start: $24,297

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: First Samurai – Casino Transaction, by Carson City

Color: Chestnut

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This multiple stakes winner nearly broke through and won his first graded stakes in his most recent start, losing by a head to veteran War Story in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup Stakes July 20. That race was held at 1 1/8 miles, and it was Bal Harbour’s best effort yet in three starts at that distance. He’ll try nine furlongs again in the Woodward and, although he’ll be one of the longest shots in Saturday’s race, he should be considered for inclusion in exotic bets based on his consistency and competitiveness. This horse has improved gradually throughout his career and has strung together seven triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures in a row. Plus, he has a good, stalking running style for the Woodward and should be positioned in an advantageous spot behind the pacesetters but in front of the deep closers as the field makes its way through the far turn. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Woodward three times with Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010), and Liam’s Map (2015). Javier Castellano was aboard Liam's Map in 2015, and the Hall of Famer has two other Woodward wins with the great Ghostzapper in 2004 and Shaman Ghost in 2016.


Joe Labozzetta/NYRA

3. Vino Rosso (SCRATCHED)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable

Career record: 13 starts – 5 wins – 0 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $1,353,125

Earnings per start: $104,087

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: Curlin – Mythical Bride, by Street Cry

Color: Chestnut

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Grade 1 winner will need a swift early pace to set things up for his late rally and will also need to improve off of his most recent start, a distant third in the Whitney Stakes, to get to the Woodward winner’s circle. In four starts this year, Vino Rosso has won twice – a listed stakes at Aqueduct and the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, defeating Gift Box – and finished fourth and third in two other Grade 1 races. In the Whitney, he traveled wide throughout and had aim on McKinzie in early stretch but weakened late while Yoshida moved past him to finish second. Vino Rosso has shown that he will compete when moved up to engage horses, but he doesn’t have a push-button turn of foot. It will be interesting to see if Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who is heating up late in the Saratoga meet with wins in the Runhappy Travers Stakes and several other big races, will put Vino Rosso closer to the early pace than usual so he can situate him among the front pack of horses when the field hits the homestretch. Velazquez, who has been aboard Vino Rosso for all of his starts, has won the Woodward four times: Lawyer Ron (2007); Quality Road (2010); To Honor and Serve (2012); and Alpha (2013). Pletcher trained Lawyer Ron and Quality Road, and also conditioned 2015 Woodward winner Liam’s Map.


4. Mongolian Groom (15-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Enebish Ganbat

Owner: Mongolian Stable

Career record: 14 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $369,141

Earnings per start: $26,367

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: Hightail – Bourbonesque, by Dynaformer

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: California-based Mongolian Groom ships across the country two weeks after running a decent, if nonthreatening, third behind impressive winner Higher Power in the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar. Prior to that start, he’d run even better when finishing second by a length to top-class Catalina Cruiser in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. This veteran gelding may actually have reached the best form of his career over the past several months, but he’s constantly been matched against graded stakes competition and has proven to be just a cut below that level. This will be his second race outside of California following a fifth-place finish in the Charles Town Classic back in April. If he takes to Saratoga’s track, he could sneak into the trifecta on Saturday, but anything better than that would be a surprise. This is the first Woodward Stakes appearance for Mongolian Groom’s ownership group and trainer.


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

5. Preservationist (7-2)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens

Owner: Centennial Farms

Career record: 9 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $637,300

Earnings per start: $70,811

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: Arch – Flying Dixie, by Dixieland Band

Color: Bay

Age: 6

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This lightly-raced 6-year-old tired to finish fourth in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 3, which was his first career start around two turns. Preservationist set the early pace in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney but had no punch in the stretch and checked in 7 ¾ lengths behind winner McKinzie. That halted a three-race winning streak, highlighted by a dominant 4 ½-length score in the Suburban Stakes going 1 ¼ miles around one full turn at Belmont Park. If Preservationist gained useful experience from his first two-turn start in the Whitney and can move forward off of that start in the Woodward at the same distance and track, he has a good shot at winning on Saturday. He should be forwardly placed early on, along with Tom’s d’Etat and Mr. Buff, ideally sitting just off the pace under regular rider Junior Alvarado. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens won the 2016 Woodward with Shaman Ghost.


6. Forewarned (30-1)

Jockey: Anthony Salgado

Trainer: Uriah St. Lewis

Owner: Uriah St. Lewis

Career record: 18 starts – 6 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $245,613

Earnings per start: $13,645

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Pedigree: Flat Out – Fortune Play, by Five Star Day

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Racing for owner-trainer Uriah St. Lewis of Discreet Lover fame, Forewarned finished a well-beaten fifth at odds of 89-1 in his most recent start, the Whitney Stakes Aug. 3 at Saratoga, and then fell during the gallop out and unseated his jockey. That was his first graded stakes appearance in his 18th career start as he’d previously plied his trade in allowance races and stakes races restricted to Ohio-breds. As expected, the Whitney was a cavernous class jump for Forewarned, one he couldn’t successfully manage. The Woodward field lacks a superstar horse on the level of McKinzie but still appears too difficult a race for this hard-trying type to make much of an impact. He has posted three consecutive triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures, the first three of his career, and has been training steadily at his Parx Racing home base since his first trip to Saratoga. Uriah St. Lewis’s Discreet Lover finished 12th in last year’s Woodward, won by Yoshida, after posting a good third-place finish in the 2018 Whitney. Discreet Lover posted an upset in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in his first start following the Woodward.


Eclipse Sportswire

7. Yoshida (5-2)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, and Head of Plains Partners

Career record: 16 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $2,370,770

Earnings per start: $148,173

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: Heart’s Cry – Hilda’s Passion, by Canadian Frontier

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The defending Woodward Stakes winner returns on Saturday seeking to double up for his ownership group, and he’s got some momentum building having run a good second to McKinzie in the Aug. 3 Whitney Stakes at the Spa. He has not won in five starts since taking the 2018 Woodward by two lengths, but showed good determination to make up some ground on McKinzie (who’s generally regarded as the top older dirt male in training) and lost by 1 ¾ lengths in the Whitney. Yoshida in turn defeated third-place Vino Rosso by 4 ¾ lengths in the Whitney, and if he can build on that effort he has a great chance to score a repeat win in the Woodward. The field for last year’s Woodward was arguably tougher than what Yoshida will face on Saturday, and Joel Rosario, who was in the irons for both Yoshida’s 2018 Woodward win and his recent runner-up finish in the Whitney, retains the mount. Yoshida will need a fast early pace in the Woodward to develop in order to set up his closing rally, but he’s shown the ability to come from way out of the clouds while racing wide before (as in last year’s Woodward win) and he’s been at his best when paired with Rosario, winning two out of three career starts. Rosario picked up his first career win in the Woodward aboard Yoshida, and it was Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s fourth career victory, following wins by the legendary Cigar in 1995 and 1996 and by To Honor and Serve in 2012.


Keeneland/Coady Photography

8. Wooderson (12-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Let’s Go Stable

Career record: 9 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $171,830

Earnings per start: $19,092

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: Awesome Again – Lotta Kim, by Roar

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2009 Woodward winner and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra has shown improvement so far in his 4-year-old season but will need to take a giant leap forward to win Saturday’s Woodward. He won his first two starts of 2019 — a seven-furlong allowance race at Keeneland and then a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Monmouth Park — but then ran a disappointing 10th in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes won by Preservationist. In his most recent start, Wooderson rebounded to finish one length behind another Woodward foe, Tom’s d’Etat, when second in the Alydar Stakes on Aug. 2 at Saratoga. He earned a career-high 116 Equibase Speed Figure in the Alydar and, if he can repeat that effort against a tougher field, he could sneak into the Woodward exacta. Of note: he has run very well in three starts at the Spa, breaking his maiden and then losing by a half-length there last summer along with his runner-up finish in the Alydar. Todd Pletcher has won the Woodward three times with Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010), and Liam’s Map (2015).


Derbe Glass/NYRA

9. Tom’s d’Etat (4-1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Al Stall Jr.

Owner: G M B Racing

Career record: 13 starts – 7 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $716,892

Earnings per start: $55,146

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 118

Pedigree: Smart Strike – Julia Tuttle, by Giant’s Causeway

Color: Bay

Age: 6

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This talented racehorse may finally be on the cusp of breaking through and securing his first graded stakes win in his 6-year-old season. He made a lasting impression to fans and horseplayers just over three years ago, when he broke his maiden in his third career start by four lengths at Saratoga. But then Tom’s d’Etat missed an extended period of time due to minor injuries, a storyline that would repeat itself again in 2017-18 when he was away for more than 13 months. In December 2018, he won his first listed stakes and then competed in three consecutive graded stakes to start off 2019, finishing second to McKinzie in the Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet and third to Seeking the Soul and Quip in the Stephen Foster Stakes, both Grade 2 races at Churchill Downs. He then won his second career stakes race, the listed Alydar Stakes, by a comfortable length at Saratoga on Aug. 2. Based on the career-best 118 Equibase Speed Figure Tom’s d’Etat earned in the Alydar, he looms as a major win candidate in the Woodward, especially since he excels when racing on or near the lead and his two most accomplished foes – Yoshida and Vino Rosso – are deep closers. Joel Rosario was aboard Tom’s d’Etat in the Alydar but will ride Yoshida in the Woodward, and Irad Ortiz Jr., currently second in Saratoga’s competitive jockey standings, picks up the mount. 

2019 Woodward S. Presented by NYRA Bets
August 31st, 2019

Winning Time: 1:48.11
  • Purse: $750,000
  • Distance: 1 1/8 Miles
  • Age: 3 yo's & up
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Winning Time: 1:48.11
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
5 Preservationist
$8.10
$5.10
$3.60
2nd
2 Bal Harbour
$12.00
$5.10
4th
9 Tom's d'Etat
5th
4 Mongolian Groom
6th
8 Wooderson
7th
1 Mr. Buff
8th
6 Forewarned
Scratches
Payoff
Pick 3
3-5-5
3-5-5
$162
Daily Double
5-5
5-5
$36
Exacta
5-2
5-2
$45
Superfecta
5-2-7-9
5-2-7-9
$40
Trifecta
5-2-7
5-2-7
$78
Grand Slam
4/5/7-1/3/8-1/4/5-5
4/5/7-1/3/8-1/4/5-5
$121
Race Replay
Play
Payoff
Pick 3
3-5-5
3-5-5
$162
Daily Double
5-5
5-5
$36
Exacta
5-2
5-2
$45
Superfecta
5-2-7-9
5-2-7-9
$40
Trifecta
5-2-7
5-2-7
$78
Grand Slam
4/5/7-1/3/8-1/4/5-5
4/5/7-1/3/8-1/4/5-5
$121

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