Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Sue Kawczynski
the two principal speed horses lined up on the far outside of the
Aqueduct Racetrack starting gate, trainer Richard Violette likes his
draw for tomorrow's TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial.
undefeated in five starts for Violette, enters the Wood off back-to-back
victories in the Grade 3 Withers and Grade 3 Gotham on the Big A's
inner track. In the Withers, Samraat engaged in a magnificent, race-long
duel with Uncle Sigh, winning by a length with the runner-up 10 ¼
lengths clear of the rest of the field. In the Gotham, Samraat stalked
Uncle Sigh and In Trouble from 1 ½ lengths back and then pounced to win
by a neck in a three-way stretch battle.
With undefeated speedball Social Inclusion,
the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the Wood, starting from the far
outside in post 11, and Samraat's chief rival, Uncle Sigh (5-1), one
slot inside him, Violette sees an opportunity for his runner to take
back even farther, up to five lengths, and watch the leaders duel.
glad I'm not in the 10 or 11 [post]," Violette said Friday morning in
his Aqueduct barn office. "They're up against it. I think they have to
kind of play hardball and commit."
believes Samraat (7-2), who will start in post 8, is easier to relax at
high speed than Uncle Sigh, yet quick enough to make the lead if no one
else wants it.
was probably a little bit more evident in the Withers," Violette said.
"We engaged Uncle Sigh without engaging the horse. [Samraat's] such a
unique animal: You can go into neutral, get into a spot, put your hands
down, and he just shuts off. He'll maintain that cruising speed. He was
able to just kind of keep Uncle Sigh from getting in a comfort zone."
Sigh's trainer Gary Contessa knows his horse wants to be in the mix
from the start and must contend with Social Inclusion, who invades New
York after two sensational races at Gulfstream Park, including a
10-length allowance win at 1 1/16 miles that earned a 111 Beyer Speed
Figure, tops among 3-year-olds this year.
not just going to sit back and let Social Inclusion blow out of the
gate and pass me without a fight," Contessa said. "Corey [Nakatani,
riding Uncle Sigh] is going to do whatever he thinks is best, but my
thought would be to ride out of the gate a little, and if [Social
Inclusion] wants to go, he'll have to lay down the gauntlet. I think
[Social Inclusion] will clear eventually, but there will be speed from
the inside, too. I don't want to hook up with [Social Inclusion] early,
but I don't want to hand him the lead. Ideally, we'll be second or
third, tracking the pace."
Violette doesn't particularly care which horse makes the lead - or even if it's an inside pace player like Schivarelli or Noble Moon. He just wants to see the horses moving fast.
be aggressive leaving there," Violette said of Samraat. "Most horses,
if you're aggressive leaving [the gate], you're committing. We make sure
everybody else commits.
think [Uncle Sigh's] got more than us to worry about. I think he's
going to be in front of us unless they try to take back. They're going
to have to go very fast to clear everybody. I think he has to. What's he
going to do, go six wide?
Violette thought about it for a moment.
"I'm not changing positions with anybody," Violette said.