Four graded stakes, headed by the 85th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial for three-year-olds at nine furlongs, will make a up a guaranteed $400,000 late Pick 4, beginning in race 7.
The 11th and final race will go to post at 6:24 p.m.
NYRA will also increase purses for each overnight race on Wood Memorial Day by $10,000.
MSG Plus will bring viewers live action from the Wood Memorial on Saturday, April 4, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., covering all of the action from the horses being saddled through the winner’s circle celebrations. The Wood Memorial is the last major New York prep race for the Kentucky Derby, and throughout its history, has been a significant springboard to success at Churchill Downs.
Beginning with Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in 1930, 11 Wood Memorial winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby including Triple Crown winners Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Seattle Slew (1977). Three of the past nine Derby winners have used the Wood as their final tune-up for the Run for the Roses, most recently New York's own Funny Cide, who ran a game second to Empire Maker in the 2003 Wood.
In line with long-standing NYRA policies, coolers and alcoholic beverages may not be brought into Aqueduct Racetrack on Wood Memorial Day, Saturday, April 4.
* * *
David J. Lanzman’s I Want Revenge, the likely favorite for the Wood Memorial, breezed five furlongs in 59.80 on the fast all-weather track at Hollywood Park Sunday morning. In his first start on a dirt track, the Stephen Got Even colt won the Grade 3, mile and a sixteenth Gotham by eight and a half lengths on Aqueduct’s inner dirt track on March 7. He’s expected to arrive at trainer Anthony Dutrow’s barn at the Big A on Wednesday.
* * *
Charles E. Fipke’s Tale of Ekati, who will be hoping to sweep Aqueduct’s Grade 1 offerings for males when he goes to post in next Saturday’s Carter Handicap, worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.20, handily on Gulfstream Park’s fast main track Sunday morning.
Saturday, Gulfstream Park hosted Florida Derby Day and track records were set on the fast main track, including Quality Road’s winning time of 1:47.72 for the nine-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby. Earlier, Big Drama won the seven-furlong Swale in a record 1:20.88, but was disqualified and placed second behind This Ones for Phil.
“I worked [Tale of Ekati] with in company with a filly called Kristi with a K,” said trainer Barclay Tagg. “They went a little faster than I wanted, but the exercise rider had a real good hold on him.
“He really doesn’t like this track down here that much, but I figured I would give him a work before I shipped him because I know he loves Aqueduct and Belmont Park.”
According to Tagg, Tale of Ekati will ship to New York on Monday. Tagg will be up later in the week before heading to Keeneland.
As a three-year-old last year, the Tale of the Cat colt won the Wood Memorial in the spring at Aqueduct, then was placed first on the disqualification of Harlem Rocker in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile during the Big A’s fall meet.
Also working for the Carter on Sunday morning was Fox Hill Farm’s Biker Boy, who went a half-mile in a bullet 47.65 on the fast track at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. The 4-year-old Came Home colt lost his debut race, but has since won four in a row for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito.
On Saturday at Laurel Park in Maryland, owner/trainer King T. Leatherbury worked Ah Day a half-mile in the slop in 50.80.
A 6-year-old gelded son of Malibu Moon, Ah Day was third in the 2007 Carter Handicap behind Silver Wagon and Diabolical. On March 7, in his first start since August 3, 2008, Ah Day got up to win the Grade 3 Toboggan here on the inner track by a head over Eternal Star.
* * *
Aqueduct’s inner track champions were decided well before the close of the season Sunday, with Gary Contessa taking his fourth straight inner track title as leading trainer and Ramon Dominguez winning the inner track riding title for the second consecutive year.
After Saturday’s card, Contessa led all trainers with 55 winners from 429 starters, while Dominguez was running away with the riding title, piloting 120 winners, twice as many as his two nearest competitors, C.C. Lopez (61) and Rajiv Maragh (59) combined. Bruce Levine finished second among trainers with 33 winners through March 28. Among owners, Repole Stable edged Winning Move Stable, 25-22, for its first title.
The main track season opens Wednesday, April 1, and runs through Sunday, April 26. Track announcer Tom Durkin also returns from hiatus.