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HRN Original Blog:
Across the Board with Mike B

2014 Kentucky Derby: Wood Memorial wrap-up

Wicked Strong Wood Memorial 2 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Sue Kawczynski

 

The Wood Memorial lived up to its hype, and then some as your winner, Wicked Strong, rallied past the top two betting choices in Samraat and Social Inclusion for a very impressive score. Wicked Strong redeemed himself after a brutal winter down in Florida and validated himself as a legit 2014 Kentucky Derby contender in the process. Here’s my take on the key players and what to expect down the line…


Wicked StrongI chased this one all winter down at Gulfstream and he repaid me for my loyalty with a very nice win. In the Wood, he broke well and was racing on the inside into the first turn. He was about four-five lengths off a strong pace stalking down the backstretch while still on the inside. While rounding the turn he tipped out and began making his move. Entering the stretch he was about four lengths off the leader and had work to do. I must admit I was not positive he was going to get there. Once in the lane, it took him a bit to get on his right lead, but as soon as he did he took off and mowed down his rivals for the victory. I was very impressed by his performance and I believe he stamped himself a major Derby contender in the process.

Social InclusionI was very much against him going into this, but I was scared. Before the race when he was strutting around the paddock in front of his confident connections, and although he was a bit hot I thought he looked fantastic and I was worried I made a bad decision by leaving him off my tickets. Ultimately he fell short, but he proved to me he was indeed the real deal. With a better post position he may have been your winner. He broke widest of all and had to expend some energy to get position up front. As a result of his post position, he went about four wide into the clubhouse turn while pressing the pace. Once on the backstretch he dueled for the lead through strong fractions. Rounding the far turn he put his pace foe away and entered the stretch with a two length lead. His pilot Luis Contreras took a peak back through his arms and I thought he was gone. In hindsight, maybe he looked back because he knew he was in trouble because he ultimately ran out of gas as Wicked Strong blew by him and Samraat beat him for the place and probably knocked him out of the Derby in the process. Maybe the post and pace did him in, or maybe he doesn’t want a route of ground? It’s a tough call and although he did endure a tough trip, if he makes the cut for the Derby I would be against. With that said though, I think this horse is super talented and is a very exciting prospect.  

SamraatHeading into this race I was very high on his chances of taking this down. He really grew on me over the winter as he kept grinding out those wins in New York. He finished second in here, and while on the surface that doesn’t sound bad, I do have concerns moving forward. He got a perfect ride and trip today and still came up short and I do not think he wants any part of the Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles. In the Wood, he broke very sharp and was out front in the first hundred yards, but conceded the lead entering the first turn while racing two-three wide. He went on to enjoy a very nice pressing trip down the back side and rounding the turn he was called upon for his run. It became evident pretty quickly though that he was not gaining on the leader. In the stretch he never swapped leads, and in my opinion, the fact he got up for the place had more to do with Social Inclusion running out of gas. I know this was only one race, but I do not think I want any part of him in Kentucky. I am officially off his bandwagon due to distance concerns. He ran his race and had no excuse at all.

Uncle SighThis Gary Contessa trained colt broke a step slow and that may have made all the difference. I am not saying he would have won, but he very well could have hit the board. Once he did break slow though, he was then caught about five wide into the first turn. He then stalked the pace down the backstretch while racing three wide and was asked to make his moving rounding the turn. He never looked like a winner, but he was passing horses late in the stretch to finish a respectable fifth considering his trouble. If he makes the cut for the Derby I would definitely consider using him underneath.


As we put the Wood Memorial behind us, I think you have to consider Wicked Strong a major player in the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Florida did not agree with him at all and I believe this victory was no fluke. He is indeed a genuine contender in Louisville. As for the other major players I want no part of Samraat at 1 ¼ miles. I was not impressed with his performance at all. His arch rival on the other hand, Uncle Sigh, had a legit excuse today and was running at the end. I do not think he is a win candidate in Kentucky, but he could definitely round out a Tri or Super. And lastly, Social Inclusion, if he were to get into the Derby field, I would be against. I thought he ran fantastic today, but having not raced as a two year old and the fact I still have distance questions with him, makes him a pass for me.

 

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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Wood Memorial wrap-up...

Sorry, had multiple windows open... wrong conversation.
Tom, I honestly think I may not even play this race. If I do I will make some small exacta bets based on odds... I like the return to the surface, but I'm not so sure he can get 9F. I think he may drop to 6-1 anyway.
Yes, that would have been a better track for his running style... Maybe they were just trying to avoid an all out duel with General A Rod and Wildcat Red on the the front end.
I think that Social Inclusion should have raced in the fla derby instead of the wood
To be honest with you,i will berooting big time for Chrome. On Derby Day i will save a little using Constitution,Bayern(if he wins the Ark. Derby and Midnight Hawk) If for some reason none of them win.Then i lose,so why not the Chiefs little guy. Jimmy has been a good one through the years.About time he got out of Popps shadow. The Chief would want nothing more.
Add Massachusetts based connections and my old boy the Chief, makes for a perfect recipe
Sorry,this years Rocky Balboa. The lovable underdog everyone roots for
Exactly Sullivan and i agree wiyh you. He did run his race and for his and his fans and connections,it was good enough to win the Wood. I just do not think that this race makes him an automatic Derby Contender. But the fun thing is,with his workmanlike racing style and a name that brings joy and pride to Peoples Hearts. He will be this years
Wicked Strong ran his race. I will cheer for him, but the horse is California Chrome and the time is now. Bayern looks ultra scary, especially off the layoff, the latter of which will aid Chitu, Midnight Hawk, Constitution and such immeasurably
Very difficult to break it down to lengths better. I was just looking at the Brisnet Pace sheets for the race.Although the final speed figure is impressive,the actual pace figures of Wicked Strong leave alot to be desired. He is being hailed as the Distance freak who will only get better with distance. His final closing figure was 86. Comparable horses are coming home in the upper 90's and in the 100's. All this means is that he had a suicidal pace scenerio in front of him and all he did was pick up the scraps. Does not mean that he will not improve,but based on this performance he is far from a serious contender in my eyes. Comparable race scenerio to this was OOOOrrrbbb in last years Derby. He came home in 89. As evidenced by his Preakness and Belmont performances. He to was not as good as the actual result of the race. But you know what. If i owned them,i would rather have a nice horse running average speed figs and winning Graded Stakes,than a Super fast horse who constantly gets beat by faster horses.
draynay... how do you figure Constitution is 6 lengths better than Wicked Strong?
Janet i personally think as it turned out,they entered in the right race.How were they to know the elements would be against them
First stakes race for Social Inclusion. I wish he would have entered Sunland Derby instead of Wood.
Wicked Strong has the right running style to be a factor on the first Saturday in May.
i think wicked strong is to, i have been waiting for him to turn around. and he did!
Wicked Strong has to figure out how to make up 6 lengths on an improving Constitution... until someone beats Constitution I will stay with him.

Categories

 Meet Michael Barry   

 

 It all started 5 years ago for me after a spur of the moment trip to Saratoga Springs with my future wife.  I had always bet on the Triple Crown races, and made a few trips to Suffolk Downs annually, but not until that journey to The Spa did things get serious for me.  I fell in love with horse racing right then and there and I haven’t looked back since.  The following year I read every handicapping book I could get my hands on.  I became, and still am, a very passionate student of the game. 

 

Through this blog I hope to take you guys through my favorite aspect of the game, which is breaking down races and doping out winners.  I focus my attention between the NYRA circuit (mostly), Gulfstream Park, and Keeneland.  I also plan to provide very thorough coverage leading up to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup.  I love analyzing the prep races leading up to both of those grand events. 

 

Wagering wise, I love playing pick 4’s and 5’s, and I have enjoyed some success in the past playing those types of exotics.  In any given race, I try to attack based on strength of opinion and value.  That may be in the form of an exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, pick 3, or by laddering my choice across the board.  Every race is its own animal and must be played accordingly.

 

Personally, I am a graduate of Boston University and reside on the South Shore of Massachusetts with my beautiful wife Tara and wonderful son Finn.  I work as a technician for a communications company by day. 

 

I can be found on Twitter @mbarry24 and I’m always up to discuss anything horse racing related.