Verrazano, Vyjack Square Off in Wood Memorial, Lead Derby futures

Harry How

Verrazano is the early Kentucky Derby favorite but he faces an undefeated challenger in Vyjack at Saturday's Wood Memorial. Check out the latest horse racing odds and racebook banter.

Saturday's Grade 1 $1 million Wood Memorial is shaping up to be one of the toughest preps on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with 170 points up for grabs for the top four finishers and featuring a pair of undefeated three-year-olds.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle Verrazano, who sits atop many Derby lists and was the favorite in Pool 3 of the Derby futures for those looking to bet on the Kentucky Derby before race day, closing on March 24 at odds of 7-1.

The colt stamped his ticket to Louisville with an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9, earning 50 points his third victory in as many starts.

New York based Vyjack is perfect in four starts, winning the Grade 3 Jerome in his stakes debut on January 5, and then earning 50 points by winning the Grade 3 Gotham on March 2.

His trainer Rudy Rodriguez has been sitting on the sidelines, slapped with a 20-day suspension for a pair of drug overages, but his forced vacation ends this week and he will be able to saddle the colt, who closed in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Futures Wagering at odds of 10-1. (More odds at US Racebook)

While the pair of undefeated colts can lose on Saturday and still head to Louisville, Normandy Invasion needs to fire his best. The Chad Brown trainee checked in fifth in the Grade 2 Risen Star on February 23, and only has four points, which were earned in a nose loss in the Grade 2 Remsen last fall at Aqueduct.

A win gets the colt a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday of May, while a runner up finish likely gets him in, as he would be sitting with 42 points. If the colt lands outside of the exacta, it is unlikely he heads to Louisville. The colt closed at 18-1 in Pool 3 of the KDFW.

Others pointing toward the Wood are Mr Palmer, Elnaawi, Always in a Tiz, Freedom Child, Quinzieme Monarque and Go Get the Basil.

The Wood Memorial has been a curse in recent years for the winners of the race. I Want Revenge (2009), Eskendereya (2010) and Toby's Corner (2011) all missed the Kentucky Derby with injuries after winning the Wood.

Last year's Wood winner Gemologist checked in 16th in the Derby, his first career defeat.

The Saturday card at the Big A Features four supporting stakes: the Grade 1 $400,000 Carter Handicap, the Grade 2 $250,000 Gazelle, Grade 2 $250,000 Ruffian Handicap, and the Grade 3 $250,000 Bay Shore.

Join us at Track Champion for Saturday's $500 US Racebook Wood Memorial Day Handicapping Contest.

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