2022 Wood Memorial Stakes Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Racing
Morello, Early Voting, and Mo Donegal (left to right) headline the 97th Wood Memorial Stakes on Saturday at Aqueduct, an important prep race for the Kentucky Derby. (Eclipse Sportswire)

This Saturday, Aqueduct will host its signature race and the final stop on the New York road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. A field of eight 3-year-olds will do battle in the $750,000, Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino.

A total of 170 Derby qualifying points are on the line, with the winner receiving 100 points, the runner-up getting 40, the third-place finisher earning 20, and the fourth-place finisher notching 10. A top-two finish by any of these horses in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial should be enough to ensure a spot in the Derby starting gate.

Twenty horses coming out of the Wood Memorial have won the Kentucky Derby, including some of the sport’s biggest stars. The list includes Gallant Fox, Omaha, Count Fleet, Assault, Carry Back, Secretariat, Foolish Pleasure, Seattle Slew, Genuine Risk, and Funny Cide. Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000 was the last Wood Memorial winner to train on and win the Kentucky Derby.

The 97th Wood Memorial Stakes will be televised on NBC as part of their coverage of the road to the Derby and will also be shown on TVG. Post time is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET.

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Let’s meet the field for this year’s Wood Memorial.


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

1. Mo Donegal

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Donegal Racing

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $221,800

Earnings per start: $55,450

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 95

Kentucky Derby points: 12

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – Callingmissbrown, by Pulpit

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: One of three horses entered in the Wood Memorial for Todd Pletcher, Mo Donegal achieved his biggest victory to date on this track in December, when he won the Remsen Stakes by a nose in an exciting stretch battle with Zandon. He made his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes Feb. 5 at Gulfstream Park, and finished third after accelerating strongly in the last eighth. His figures are very competitive in this field, with three consecutive Equibase Speed Figures in the 90s. He’s proven himself around two turns and should save ground while running just off the pace. Mo Donegal has only 12 Derby qualifying points to his name, so he’ll likely need at least a top-two finish to clinch a spot in the Derby starting gate and may be on the borderline to get in with a third-place finish. Mo Donegal’s sire (father) is Uncle Mo, the 2010 2-year-old champion male. Uncle Mo finished third in the 2011 Wood Memorial as the 1-10 favorite. That horse, now a good sire, was also trained by Pletcher. Hall of Famer Pletcher has won the Wood Memorial six times, including last year with longshot Bourbonic. With one more win, he’ll match Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons’ record for most victories in this race. Joel Rosario won the Wood Memorial in 2015 with Frosted.


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

2. Golden Code

Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Calumet Farm

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $88,500

Earnings per start: $29,500

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 87

Kentucky Derby points: 10

Pedigree: Honor Code – Jb’s Golden Regret, by Bankers Gold

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Todd Pletcher trainee broke his maiden in impressive fashion at Aqueduct on Feb. 5, when he crushed a New York-bred maiden field by 10 ¾ lengths. He made his stakes debut in the Gotham Stakes next out, and finished third at 27.50-1 despite racing wide most of the way. He improved slightly off his maiden win in that race, but never looked like a serious threat against either Morello or runner-up Dean’s List. Golden Code is going to have to improve several points to contend in this race, but may be able to close for second or third and spice up the exotic wagering payoffs. The owner/trainer/jockey combination of Calumet Farm, Pletcher, and Kendrick Carmouche teamed up to win the Wood Memorial last year when Bourbonic pulled off a 72.25-1 upset. Pletcher’s five other victories in the Wood came with Vino Rosso (2018), Outwork (2016), Verrazano (2013), Gemologist (2012), and Eskendereya (2010).


Janet Garaguso/NYRA

3. Early Voting

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Klaravich Stables

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

Career earnings: $181,500

Earnings per start: $90,750

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 81

Kentucky Derby points: 10

Pedigree: Gun Runner – Amor d’Ete, by Tiznow

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Early Voting is very lightly raced, but he at least has a win at two turns under his belt. Following a victory in a maiden special weight race in his first start on Dec.18, trainer Chad Brown entered him in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes back at Aqueduct on Feb. 5. He set the pace and could not be caught, crossing the wire 4 ½ lengths in front. His form was validated somewhat when Withers runner-up Un Ojo won the Rebel Stakes in his next start. Withers fourth-place finisher Grantham was also second in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby next out. However, the Withers was not a very fast race. Early Voting’s Equibase figure of 81 was 15 points slower than the mark Morello earned in the Gotham a month later, and Early Voting’s effort was deemed similarly slow on other speed figure scales. Furthermore, this son of Horse of the Year and productive young sire Gun Runner will likely not get the easy front-running trip he got in the Withers, as Morello is sure to press him on the pace. Early Voting has shown promise but he must improve a great deal to win this race. Jose Ortiz won the 2019 Wood Memorial aboard Tacitus and was second last year on Dynamic One.


4. Long Term

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Repole Stable

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

Career earnings: $64,000

Earnings per start: $16,000

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 86

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Curlin – Savings Account, by Medaglia d’Oro

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The third and final Pletcher trainee in the race is the only one in here who has not yet competed in a stakes race, and he’s the only one without a victory to his credit. Long Term has finished second in each of his four starts, losing as the favorite in his last three. His most recent effort, where he was pressed on the pace throughout and battled gamely in the stretch to lose by a half-length, was perhaps his best so far. If this son of Horse of the Year and top sire Curlin can’t beat a field of maidens he’s not likely to have much success against Saturday’s field. Still, if you believe in him, you’ll certainly get a much better price than usual. He hasn’t gone off at lower than 2.35-1 in his career so far. Repole Stable co-owned 2018 Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso with St. Elias Stable. Javier Castellano has won the Wood Memorial twice, with Bellamy Road in 2005 and Gemologist in 2012. Todd Pletcher, as noted above, has won the Wood six times and has three shots to equal the all-time win record Saturday.


Chelsea Durand/NYRA

5. Morello

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Blue Lion Thoroughbreds, Craig Taylor and Diamond T Racing

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

Career earnings: $264,000

Earnings per start: $88,000

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Kentucky Derby points: 50

Pedigree: Classic Empire – Stop the Wedding, by Congrats

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: In three career starts, all of which have come at Aqueduct, Morello has been perfect. He’s won two stakes races this year, taking the seven-furlong Jimmy Winkfield Stakes by five lengths going away, then winning the one-mile, Grade 3 Gotham Stakes by 4 ½ lengths. He has dangerous early speed and will likely get a great trip on or near the pace. The big question with Morello is the distance. He’s never been around two turns in his life – the Gotham was a one-turn race. However, there was little about his Gotham win to suggest that the extra distance in the Wood Memorial will be an issue. Once Morello hit the front, he moved away easily, with Jose Lezcano never having to use the whip. If this Classic Empire colt is as effective racing around two turns, the rest of Saturday’s field will be up against it. Unlike the rest of the Wood Memorial contenders, Morello is already secure in terms of Kentucky Derby qualifying points with 50, although earning more of them certainly will be welcome. Lezcano, closing in on his 3,000th career victory, and Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen are both looking for their first Wood Memorial wins.


6. Skippylongstocking

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Owner: Daniel Alonso

Career record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $90,100

Earnings per start: $11,623

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Exaggerator – Twinkling, by War Chant

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: On the surface, Skippylongstocking’s last race looks pretty impressive. He won a 1 1/8-mile first-level allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park around two turns by 3 ¾ lengths, earning a lifetime-top Equibase Speed Figure of 100 that makes him a major contender with the rest of the Wood Memorial field. However, that race should be taken with a grain of salt. He rated off an extremely fast pace, as King Cab, who won a stakes race for Florida-breds at Tampa Bay Downs next out, set blazing fractions and stopped badly on the turn. With that kind of pace in front of him, Skippylongstocking had the perfect setup and took full advantage of it. While he has a lot of experience and room to improve, this Exaggerator colt is not likely to get as good a trip Saturday in the Wood Memorial.


Eclipse Sportswire

7. A. P’s Secret

Jockey: Manny Franco

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Owner: Gentry Farms

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

Career earnings: $74,740

Earnings per start: $18,685

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Cupid – Afleet Honey, by Uncle Mo

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After A. P.’s Secret impressively won an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park in January, trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. decided to take a shot with him in the March 5 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes. He was racing between horses on the final turn when In Due Time came out and bumped him, causing A. P’s Secret to clip heels with High Oak, who fell and unseated his jockey. A. P’s Secret was forced to check behind In Due Time, and while it was a notable instance of trouble, it probably did not have much bearing on the outcome as he was already beginning to tire. A. P.’s Secret drew towards the outside in the Wood Memorial, so he’s likely to get another wide trip, which could spell trouble for him.


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

8. Barese

Jockey: Dylan Davis

Trainer: Mike Maker

Owners: Paradise Farm Corp. and David Staudacher

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

Career earnings: $151,250

Earnings per start: $50,417

Top Equibase speed figure: 97

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Laoban – Right Prevails, by Successful Appeal

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This New York-bred has dominated his fellow Empire Staters this year, with back-to-back wins in New York-bred stakes races. He overcame wide trips to win the Rego Park Stakes and the Gander Stakes to win by a combined four lengths. In the latter race on Feb. 12, Barese was four lengths back in the stretch but he timed his move perfectly and got up to win the one-mile affair. Saturday’s Wood will be his first start at two turns, but he should be able to handle the distance well. This Laoban colt looks like an interesting alternative to the favorites. Dylan Davis captured the riding title at the Aqueduct winter meet, tallying 63 wins from 301 mounts.

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