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2018 Wood Memorial and Analysis

Enticed, Firenze Fire hoping for good pace setup in Wood Memorial

Wood Memorial-G2, Aqueduct
Race 10, Saturday, April 7, 2018
Distance: 1 1/8-miles. Surface: Dirt. Purse: $750,000

2018 Wood Memorial Picks

Wood Memorial Analysis

Enticed was enthusiastic and wanting more when he won the Gotham Stakes-G3 at Aqueduct on March 10. If he feels like that again in the Wood Memorial on Saturday, he should be a handful.

The winner of last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes-G2 at Churchill Downs, Enticed looked good winning the Gotham in his second start off the layoff, following a dead-short fourth-place finish in Audible’s Holy Bull Stakes-G2 at Gulfstream on February 3. He also had something left at the wire in the Gotham. He likely can’t catch a lone speed horse if one gets away in the Wood, but if any kind of contested pace develops, he’s the horse to beat.

Restoring Hope ships across the country for trainer Bob Baffert and he might be the sneaky speed of the race, but he doesn’t need the lead to win. In his last start going 1 1/16-miles in a Maiden Special Weight at Santa Anita, Restoring Hope forced the pace from the outside and drew off to win by 3 ½-lengths, earning a good 89 Beyer Speed Figure. If he moves forward off the race he’ll be right there at the wire in the Wood.

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Old Time Revival dueled on a fast pace in the Gotham before succumbing to Enticed, and he should be on the lead again in here if Restoring Hope doesn’t use his California speed to open up early. Old Time revival put away his duel rival in the Gotham and opened up into the stretch, but we can’t see him slipping away from Restoring Hope in the same fashion if that one handles the Aqueduct surface.

Heartfullofstars could also add some pace pressure based on his recent Maiden Special Weight win at Santa Anita going a mile. Heartfullofstars finished fourth beaten 5 ½-lengths by Restoring Hope two starts ago, but that was his first start back off a layoff. Still, when he broke his maiden he won by a head after dueling on a slow pace and earned only a 79 Beyer Speed Figure.

Vino Rosso finished fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby-G2 in his last but likely did so on pure talent. When John Velazquez asked him to run after a perfect trip stalking a duel, he had no horse. He might have bounced in his second start back off the layoff, but he’ll need a big move back to his best to contend with these. Velazquez sticks with him, and that should at least guarantee him a good trip.

Firenze Fire is an interesting horse in this year’s Wood and he should be a decent price off his last, which was better than it looked. He was back early and found himself in a bit of a switch on the turn. When he finally did get clear room from late turn the winner already had the jump on him. It’s difficult to tell whether he’ll go the 1 1/8-miles of the Wood, but with a clean trip he should run better than he did in his last and that puts him into the Wood Memorial Superfecta.

Evalulator gets blinkers on after an all-over-the-track nose loss in the Damon Ranyon against New York-breds at Aqueduct on January 15. He faces open company for the first time and we’re not sure if he’s in this class, but the blinkers should help, and he could rally into the Wood Superfecta late. The last horse we’ll mention is King Zachary. The Dale Romans trainee was an impressive and eager winner of Maiden Special Weight rivals at Gulfstream Park going 1 1/16-miles on March 18 and looks like he has some talent. He’ll need it however, as he moves way up in class for this.

Looks like Heartfullofstars and Old Time Revival on the lead early under pressure from Restoring Hope. The latter takes over into the stretch and will then have to hold off Enticed and Firenze Fire in the drive. Could it really be that simple?

We hope so!

Strong's Race Pick: Enticed

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