Verrazano and Vyjack are expected to head the field for the 89th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 6, Aqueduct Racetrack’s final major
prep for the May 4 Kentucky Derby.
Unraced as a 2-year-old, Verrazano won his first two starts at
Park by a combined margin of 24 lengths, and
heads into the 1 1 /8-mile Wood off a commanding three-length victory
on March 9 in the Grade 2 Tampa Derby. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the
Let’s Go Stable color-bearer will again have
the services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the Wood.
Vyjack will be seeking his fifth consecutive victory at Aqueduct
for Pick Six Racing. At age 2, the Into Mischief gelding broke his
maiden on November 10 and took the
Traskwood overnight stakes on December 9.
He then launched his 3-year-old campaign with a hard-fought
victory around two turns in the Grade 2 Jerome. Most recently he was an
impressive winner of the Grade 3
Gotham, rallying from 10th at the top of the stretch and onto a 2 ¼-length win over
West Hills Giant.
In addition to those unbeaten sophomores, the Wood is expected to attract the Gotham runner-up and third-place finisher
Elnaawi; Mr Palmer, winner of the Private Terms stakes at Laurel Park on March 9;
Normandy Invasion, most recently fifth in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds;
Always in a Tiz, fifth in Oaklawn’s Grade 3 Southwest, and maiden winners
Freedom Child and Quinzieme Monarque.
Indy’s Illusion, beaten a neck on March 10 in a
Park optional claimer at the 1 1/8-mile Wood distance, is possible for the race.