Eskendereya entered the Wood Memorial as one of the early Derby favorites, he will exit New York as an almost certain strong choice to give Todd Pletcher his first Kentucky Derby winner. Zayat Stables' powerfully built chestnut colt looked spectacular in the Wood Memorial powering to a 9 3/4 length victory over one of the strongest fields assembled during this Derby prep season.
The early pace was set by 69-1 longshot Most Happy Fella who carved out an opening quarter mile in 24 2/5 seconds before covering the opening half mile in 49 1/5 seconds. Jackson Bend and Eskendereya stalked those slow opening fractions while Schoolyard Dreams set just behind that bunch. Awesome Act was rank for the entirety of the backstretch and never seemed to settle under jockey Julien LeParoux who kept a tight hold on his charge until the stretch. Carnivore was behind early and never really contended.
As the field turned for home it became clear the it was going to be a facile victory for John Velazquez aboard Eskendereya, who made a very talented field look extremely average down the stretch. As Eskendereya pulled away from the field Jackson Bend held on gamely for second holding off Awesome Act by a head. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Schoolyard Dreams in fourth.
Eskendereya covered the 1 1/8 mile distance of the Wood Memorial on a fast track at Aqueduct in 1:49.97. Eskendereya is by top stallion Giant's Causeway, and is out of the Seattle Slew mare Aldebaran Light.