2012 Wood Memorial: Preview And Picks

Jockey Ramon Dominguez will ride Alpha in the 2012 Wood Memorial on Saturday, April 7th.

The undefeated Gemologist looks to solidify a spot in the 2012 Kentucky Derby with a win in Saturday's Grade 1 Wood Memorial.

With the 2012 Kentucky Derby just a month away, three-year-old colts across the country are looking for valuable graded stakes earnings in order to secure a place in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. Among the contenders desperate for money is Gemologist, the 8/5 morning-line favorite for the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on Saturday. The undefeated Gemologist is a perfect four-for-four in his career but only has a single graded stakes win to his credit. As a result, he sits 30th in current graded stakes earnings for Kentucky Derby contenders. The Derby is limited to 20 horses based on graded earnings.

Post time for Saturday's Wood Memorial is scheduled for 5:15pm Eastern/2:15pm Pacific, and will be televised by NBC.

Below are the entries, post positions and morning line odds for the Wood Memorial.

PP Horse Jockey Trainer ML
1 Alpha R. Dominguez K. McLaughlin 5/2
2 Casual Trick C. Nakatani N. Zito 20/1
3 My Adonis E. Trujillo K. Breen 8/1
4 Teeth of the Dog J. Bravo M. Matz 15/1
5 Street Life J. Alvarado C. Brown 4/1
6 Gemologist J. Castellano T. Pletcher 8/5
7 Tiger Walk J. Velazquez I. Correas 15/1
8 The Lumber Guy C. Velasquez M. Hushion 8/1

1-Alpha (5/2): The Godolphin colt has done nothing wrong this spring, winning both of his starts at the Aqueduct in fairly comfortable fashion. The issue with Alpha is that neither of the wins were eye-catching from a speed figure perspective. On the positive side, this colt has improved in both his starts this year and incremental improvement in the Wood should put him in the mix in the final furlongs.

2-Casual Trick (20/1): In his last two races, Casual Trick has lost by 50 ¾ lengths. You don't have to follow horse racing closely to understand that those numbers are extremely ugly. He's 20/1 on the morning line, but probably deserves to be in the neighborhood of 50/1 come post time.

3-My Adonis (8/1): If you're looking for a reason to get behind My Adonis in this spot, there are at least two reasons to be optimistic. First, he was the only horse to even get near Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Hanson in the G3-Gotham. Second, My Adonis has the ability to sit on or near the lead in the early stages, a running style that should help him in a race that appears to be a little light on speed.

4-Teetch of the Dog (15/1): He led from start to finish when breaking his maiden in early February at Gulfstream Park, but got away with pretty soft fractions in the process. He'll break inside of the morning line favorite, Gemologist, and is unlikely to get any kind of space in the early half-mile. Tough task ahead.

5-Street Life (4/1): He closed well to win his last two races, both at Aqueduct, and he's improving nicely with every start in 2012. It's doubtful he'll get a fast pace, but he's shown enough to suggest that he'll be making a good effort in the homestretch. A son of former Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Street Life should get better as the distances get longer.

6-Gemologist (8/5): With all due respect to Alpha, Gemologist is the colt that everyone is looking to in this race. Undefeated in four lifetime starts, including the G2-Kentucky Jockey Club last fall, Gemologist is a versatile colt that has won races on the lead, on dry and wet tracks, on synthetic and dirt and at a variety of distances. That versatility makes him the horse to beat in the 2012 Wood Memorial.

7-Tiger Walk (15/1): He tried graded stakes company in his last two efforts and didn't get within sniffing distance of Hansen or Alpha in the G3-Withers or G3-Gotham. Anything is possible in horse racing, but this colt doesn't appear to be up to the class test that the Wood presents.

8-The Lumber Guy (8/1): Two starts, two wins. The Lumber Guy, a son of the recently deceased sire Grand Slam, is the speed of the speed and is the logical choice to lead the field heading into the first turn. This race is his first try at running around two turns; it will be difficult to take this field wire-to-wire with Gemologist likely stalking him every step of the way.

The Pick

It's all about Gemologist in this year's Wood. Assuming he gets away from the gate cleanly, he should be able to sit in a perfect stalking position off of The Lumber Guy through the first six furlongs. If he maintains the form he displayed in his season debut at Gulfstream in mid-March, it's unlikely any of the horses in this field will be able to run him down in the stretch.

I'll take Gemologist on top with Street Life underneath in the exacta.

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