• Miss Sunset (3-1) grinds out the win over Chalon in the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes.Posted 2 days ago
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  • La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 9 days ago
  • Rubilinda (6-5) finds the wire just in time to take the Pebbles Stakes.Posted 9 days ago
  • Engage (1-2) rolls home from last to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes.Posted 9 days ago
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Breeders' Cup 2017

Wood Memorial: Awesome Act Works

Gotham winner Awesome Act worked six furlongs in 1:14.05 over the Belmont Park training track Thursday morning, his first serious move since winning the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack on March 6 and final timed work before an expected start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 3.


The chestnut son of Awesome Again made the short trip from his temporary home in Steve Asmussen’s barn to the training track just after 9:20 a.m. with exercise rider Wayne Tanner in the irons.  The pair was joined by Vinery Stables’ stakes-winning Peace Town, who worked in company with Awesome Act, and a pony. 


‘We decided to give him an easy week [after the Gotham] and then the weather wasn’t so good,” said trainer Jeremy Noseda, who arrived in town Tuesday evening and will return to his base in England on Thursday night.  “We didn’t have tack on him for about eight or nine days.  This was his first proper piece of work in two and a half weeks.”


Awesome Act breezed an easy half-mile in 50.43 on March 20.


“I’m happy,” Noseda said of Thursday’s effort.  “The work was there to help put us back on schedule and he went as we wanted.  It will do him good and get him sharp.  He had a good blow, which will do his wind good.  I hope that work put him right.”


Noseda said that the colt would most likely blow out three-eighths of a mile on Wednesday morning, but the trainer does not plan to return to New York until Friday evening for Saturday’s race. 


The Gotham was the first start on dirt for Awesome Act, who is owned in partnership by Mrs. Susan Roy and Vinery Stables, and his first start since finishing fourth by 1¼ lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November.


A total of 61 horses were nominated for the 1 1/8th mile Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack, New York’s final major stepping stone to the Triple Crown.


In addition to Awesome Act, NYRA Stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes said Thursday that likely candidates for the Wood include Grade 2 Fountain of Youth winner Eskendereya and runner-up Jackson Bend, as well as recent maiden winner CarnivoreSuper Saver, third in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 13, First Dude, fifth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, and Turf Melody, fourth in the Gotham, were listed as questionable.


*          *          *


Trainer Gary Contessa said Thursday that Harold Lerner’s Eightyfiveinafifty is progressing well toward an expected start in next Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

“He’s had two straight phenomenal works and he’s come back from all of his works really well,” Contessa said.  “I’ll work him one last time this Sunday and if all is well, we’ll see you in the Bay Shore.”


Eightyfiveinafifty breezed six furlongs in 1:12.37 on Sunday, March 21 and turned in a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Thursday, March 11, both over the inner track at Aqueduct.  The Bay Shore will be his first start since a troubled bid in the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct on February 6, in which he went wide around the first turn and ran through the rail before returning to the barn area.


Turtle Bird Stable’s Raynick’s Jet is also expected to start in the Bay Shore, with other possible entrants including Nathan’s H Q, Unbridled Fury and V Dare He Is.


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In addition to the Bay Shore, the Wood Day undercard features a pair of stakes topped by the Grade 1, $250,000 Carter Handicap run at seven furlongs.

As of Thursday, Byrnes said the Carter was expected to attract six horses including Stetson Stables’ Grade 3 Toboggan winner Wall Street Wonder and Michael B. Tabor’s Munnings, winner of the Grade 2 Woody Stephens and Grade 2 Tom Fool at Belmont Park last year.


Also expected are Eric Fein’s Musket Man, third in both the 2009 Preakness and Kentucky Derby, A. Stevens Miles Jr.’s Warrior’s Reward, second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga last summer, Darley Stable’s Elusive Warning, who finished fourth in last month’s Toboggan, and Repole Stable’s Digger who is 2-1-0 in his three most recent starts, all in stakes company. 


The Grade 3, $200,000, 1 1/8-mile Excelsior for older horses is expected to draw Edward P. Evans Nite Light, who was third in his most recent start, the Stymie on March 7 at Aqueduct, following a pair of second-place finishes to stablemate Tiger’s Rock in the Coyote Lakes and Gallant Fox, both run over the inner track at 1 5/8 miles. 


Also considering a start in the Excelsior are Circle E Racing’s Timber Reserve, Alex Lieblong’s Duke of Mischief  and Marc Ferrell’s Goldsville.


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NYRA will offer a $500,000 guaranteed all-stakes Pick 4 on the 11-race Wood Memorial Day card.

The wager begins with Race 7, the Grade 3 Bay Shore, set to go off at approximately 4:08 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 3.  The Pick 4 covers all stakes races to be run at Aqueduct that afternoon, continuing in Race 8 with the Grade 3 Excelsior (approximate post 4:40 p.m.), Race 9 with the featured Grade 1 Wood Memorial (approximate post 5:12 p.m.) and concluding in Race 10 with the Grade 1 Carter (approximate post 5:45 p.m.).


The Wood Memorial will be televised live on NBC from 5-6 p.m.   









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