AGOS Horses to Watch: Wood Memorial Won by Mo Donegal

Will the Wood Memorial Make an Impact?

Klaravich Stable runner Early Voting set an honest pace while receiving mild pressure from longshot A.P. Secret.  He opened up in mid-stretch but was run down late by Mo Donegal, the 2021 Remsen winner at Aqueduct.  This result reminded me alot of the Wood Memorial finish between the speed horse Funny Cide and the closer Empire Maker.  The latter would take a lot more money in the Kentucky Derby, in fact he went off the favorite, but Funny Cide was the upset winner.  Both Early Voting and Mo Donegal came home with swift fractions in this 9 furlong Derby prep.  Mo Donegal’s final 3/8th of a mile was an eye-opening 35.59.  Third place finisher Skippylongstocking, for FL Derby winning trainer Saffie Joseph, tried hard in third while no real threat to the top two.  This colt is definitely on the improve heading into the first Saturday in May.

AGOS Horses to Watch: Santa Anita Derby Won by Taiba

Trainer Tim Yakteen runs 1-2 in the major California prep for the Kentucky Derby

Forbidden Kingdom got the early lead and dictated the pace.  However, he flipped his epiglottis and backed up abruptly turning for home. Messier, who was tracking that one through a quick pace, took over but could not hold off stablemate Taiba.  The son of Gunrunner, described as a “superhorse” by Yakteen mowed that one down in the lane in a very impressive finish.  His final 1/8th of a mile was sub 12.50. Legendary jock Mike Smith was the winning rider aboard Taiba, this year’s Santa Anita Derby champ.

The top two finishers, of course, were previously trained by Bob Baffert.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #28 – Who Can Win the KY Derby?

2013 KY Derby contender Verrazanoby Art Parker

In the last several decades over 80% of the Derby winners finished either first or second in one of the following major prep races: Spiral Stakes, Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes.

On occasion there will be exceptions to this rule but it is hard to ignore the Derby results these races have posted.

There are a couple of reasons for these races being so important to the Derby. First, most of these races serve as the last “big prep” before the Derby and almost all serious contenders will run in one of these, plus the purses of these races are very appealing. Secondly, the cream of the crop shows up at these races, which are generally held four to five weeks before the Derby making these races the best indicator of current form.

It’s unlikely the winner on the first Saturday in May will exit a race other than one these major preps.