The 2017 Wood Memorial will take place this afternoon from Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, Queens, New York, and the action will once again be must see TV for thoroughbred racing fans. While there are several key prep stake races left before the Kentucky Derby field is officially announced, the Wood Memorial, which is running just 3o minutes or so before today’s Blue Grass Stakes, is one of the most historic of them all.
The Wood Memorial has produced some very strong competitors over the years that were Triple Crown contenders, including greats like Tapit (2004), Nobiz Like Shobiz (2007), and most recently Frosted in 2015. While all three of these horses won the Wood Memorial and went on to have great careers, this year’s favorite has the potential to be just as good as his predecessors.
According to a Courier-Journal report, one of the highest profiled horses to hit the turf on Saturday afternoon will be Irish War Cry. While the talent is there for this horse to become a Kentucky Derby contender, the biggest problem with him has been consistency.
After Irish War Cry’s near four-length win in the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes back on February 4, being a Kentucky Derby contender seemed to be in the bag. However, that race was followed up by a seventh-place finish in the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) last month. So can one of the top favorites in this year’s Wood Memorial shake off a terrible performance and punch its ticket to the Kentucky Derby this afternoon?
Trainer Graham Motion was right to the point when it comes to Irish War Cry’s fate. If he wants to be a derby contender, it is time to put his best foot forward, as he told Bloodhorse earlier this week.
“Obviously, he’s going to have to step up and be competitive on Saturday otherwise he doesn’t belong doing this—and I’m not going to force it to happen,” Motion said.
While it is very uncommon that a horse of such high caliber would do so well in one race and not another it is a bit unusual at this level of racing, but it does happen from time to time. Motion is hoping they can put the last race behind them and have a great showing this evening at the Wood Memorial.
“It was a real head-scratcher,” Motion said of the Fountain of Youth. “I was a little surprised that (jockey) Joel (Rosario) chose to lay so close to the pace. We’d kind of discussed the thing that I really wanted to get him to settle. I would have preferred he come back off the pace. I think I would have learned a little bit more about my horse—and I certainly am not blaming Joel for the way he ran because, you know, he really ran an appalling race that day—but, I’d like to think he’s going to settle on Saturday. And if he’s not going to settle, he’s going to have a hard time competing in these races.”
Irish War Cry and Motion will have their hands full this afternoon at the Wood Memorial as they will be up against Battalion Runner and Cloud Computing, two other top contenders for today’s race. Battalion Runner is the morning line favorite of the Wood Memorial at 2/1 odds, and one of two horses that will be entered in the Wood Memorial that is trained by Todd Pletcher. The other is Bonus Points, who is a current 20/1 long shot.
So who will win the 2017 Wood Memorial?
It should come down to the big three of Battalion Runner, Irish War Cry and Cloud Computing. Putting these three in a trifecta of 3-7-8 looks to be like the logical choice, however, keep an eye on No. 2. Mo Town. At 6/1 and being ridden by one of the best in the game today Javier Castellano, Mo Town is a nice long shot to wager on.
Fans can catch all of the Wood Memorial action live nationally through the NBC Sports Network and TVG. If you happen to be out and about this Saturday afternoon, you can also watch every second of the Wood Memorial live online through your tablet or cell phone by downloading the NBC Sports Extra App. The results of the 2017 Wood Memorial will be posted right here in the comments section below when the race concludes and the payouts are announced.
Here is a look at the complete field, post position, current odds, and predictions for the 2017 Wood Memorial. Post time is scheduled for 5:52 p.m. ET.
Wood Memorial Field, Odds
- Glennrichment, Rudy Rodriguez, Kendrick Carmouche, 15-1
- Mo Town, Tony Dutrow, Javier Castellano, 6-1
- Battalion Runner, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 2-1
- Bonus Points, Todd Pletcher, Luis Saez, 20-1
- True Timber, Kiaran McLaughlin, Paco Lopez, 12-1
- Stretch’s Stone, Bruce Levine, Manny Franco, 15-1
- Cloud Computing, Chad Brown, Irad Ortiz, 5-2
- Irish War Cry, Graham Motion, Rajiv Maragh, 7-2
Picks — Winner: Irish War Cry or Battalion Runner
Perfecta — 3,7,8 and 2,7,8
Perfects — 2,7 and 2,8
[Featured Image by Anthony Geathers/Getty Images]