March 31, 2010

Wood-Working on ZATT

New York’s premier prep for the Kentucky Derby, the Wood Memorial, will celebrate its 86th edition this Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack. In its rich and storied past, the Wood has seen such winners as Gallant Fox, Count Fleet, Assault, Native Dancer, Nashua, Bold Ruler, Damascus, Foolish Pleasure, Seattle Slew, Pleasant Colony, Slew O’ Gold, Easy Goer, Unbridled’s Song, Fusaichi Pegasus, Empire Maker, Bellamy Road, and I Want Revenge. It has consistently been one of the most important springboards to the Run for the Roses, and this year’s running sets up to be a strong one. With some realistic handicapping, the Wood boils down to a four horse race. Each of the big four of Eskendereya, Awesome Act, Schoolyard Dreams, and Jackson Bend, has a chance to win Saturday and then make a big splash at Churchill Downs. Let’s take a closer look at the Wood Memorial’s fantastic four:

Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway—Aldebaran Light by Seattle Slew)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher   Jockey: John Velazquez   ZATT Odds: 6-5
Eskendereya has been freshened since his monster effort in the Fountain of Youth. In his time away, the Florida Derby finish of Ice Box and Pleasant Prince 1-2, only served to flatter the Wood Memorial favorite. Pletcher believes the beautifully bred colt will run all day, and a performance similar to his last at Gulfstream will make him one of the two choices in Louisville. He appears to be the number one bullet in Pletcher’s brigade of prospects.



Awesome Act (Awesome Again—Houdinis Honey by Mr. Prospector)
Trainer: Jeremy Noseda   Jockey: Julien Leparoux   ZATT Odds: 2-1
A quality English import, with breeding that suggests a route of ground on dirt, makes for a most interesting Kentucky Derby prospect. Another solid effort, now against tougher competition, in his second dirt race will make the European a hot choice in Kentucky. The chestnut colt, trained by the same Englishman who brought us BC winner Wilko, certainly had the look of quality in his first two U.S. starts.



Schoolyard Dreams (Stephen Got Even—Hear This by Prospector’s Music)
Trainer: Derek Ryan   Jockey: Ramon Dominguez   ZATT Odds: 5-1
He has all the look of a horse who is getting good at the right time, and has bounced back from an excellent effort in the Tampa Bay Derby with a bullet work over the deep strip in Tampa. The Wood Memorial should offer a good gauge for the Tampa Bay Derby which I have rated very highly. Conditioner Derek Ryan has been high on this colt for a long time and, in the Wood, will finally get the rider he has been wanting to ride Dreams, in Ramon Dominguez.



Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil—Sexy Stockings by Tabasco Cat)
Trainer: Nick Zito   Jockey: Calvin Borel   ZATT Odds: 5-1
He ran a big race in the Holy Bull, but will have to show improvement after running a well beaten second in the Fountain of Youth, to none other than Eskendereya. I refuse to take this one too lightly, however. He is trained by master conditioner Nick Zito, and has run well in all of his eight starts. Maybe the Fountain of Youth was not his best, he was preferred to Eskendereya by bettors that day, and maybe Zito has him geared up for the big ones. He is still a horse to fear.

11 comments:

Ciarán said...

6/5 on eskendereya looks a gift at this stage.

Ciarán said...

oh are they ur own calculations? i'll take a piece of that please Brian :P

Brian Zipse said...

Right-o Ciarán...these are my odds. 6-5 is probably a little higher than he will go off, but I have a lot of respect for the other three of the big four!

Ciarán said...

was schoolyard dreams the horse who worked 5f in 69 seconds? if not. who was that!

Brian Zipse said...

No Ciarán, Schoolyard Dreams worked a fast four furlongs at Tampa. The horse you are thinking about is Backtalk, who runs Saturday in the Illinois Derby. More on him, and that race, coming soon on ZATT...

Ciarán said...

that's good. happy enuf to stay on the eskendereya wagon so!

Anonymous said...

awesome act will win the wood.......expect big race from jackson with borail.......eske finishes third......

ja.raymond said...

Conveyance, Sidney's Candy, & D'Funnybone have been the only ones to win more than one prep race since January.
So, for the Wood, I'm going with Jackson Bend!
If Eskie gets it, I'll be pleasantly surprised, as he is one of my Derby faves.

Ciarán said...

oh after leavin 4 comments i thought i wudda mentioned that i really dont rate Awesome Act, on his euro form he's a cut below. I don't mind bein proven wrong, and of course american tracks and american dirt is v different to what we have over here, but over here he was not, and was never gonnna be a top horse... so jus my tuppence worth at this stage. spose the juvenille bc turf form aint lookin too bad but still..i wudnt have him top of my list...as i say, open to bein proven wrong

LDP said...

Personally I'm rooting for the little guy, I love how JB always gives it his all, no matter what, but I'm thinking Awesome Act or a surprise win, to many, but Schoolyard. I may have disagreed with you on placing Odysseus number one for now, but I do believe his is one talented son of a gun, and if that proves true, then Schoolyard may just pull a fast one.

Brian Zipse said...

Interesting persepective Jane.

Ciarán, I have always thought Awesome Act is better suited for American tracks, pace, and dirt. See what he can do in the Wood.

Jackson Bend is an easy one to root for LDP.