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Breeders' Cup 2017

Kentucky Derby 2014: Handicapping the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial


The last time the Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial winner completed the Wood/Kentucky Derby double was in 2000 when Fusaichi Pegasus accomplished the feat. In the interim, both Funny Cide and Monarchos finished 2nd in the Wood en route to a Kentucky Derby victory. Bellamy Road, the 2005 winner, holds the stakes record for the race, running the 1 1/8 mile in 1:47.16. The record for most wins in the race is held by jockey Eddie Arcaro (9), trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons (7), and owners Belair Stable, Wheatley Stable, Greentree Stable, and Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (all with 4).


The 2014 Kentucky Derby trail is one of fierce rivalry.  In Florida, Wildcat Red and General A Rod battled it out, while in New York Samraat and Uncle Sigh have starred in their own remake of the Affirmed and Alydar show.  The two fierce rivals are joined in the Wood by a host of newcomers to the Triple Crown trail. Also joining the fray is a West Coast shipper and a trio of colts seeking to break the Curse of Apollo, meaning that no horse since Apollo did it in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year old. Not to be outdone, Florida Filly Ashley Tamulonis and Pedigree Power Laurie Ross continue their head and head handicapping, although with less rivalry than our horse counterparts.




Kid Cruz—(Lemon Drop Kid—Layreebelle, by Tale of the Cat) was a crafty claim last November by Linda Rice.  Given time to mature, the son of Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid rewarded his connections with two good performances, including a victory in the 1 1/8 mile Private Terms Stakes at Laurel.   The colt earned a huge late pace speed figure of 121 and made a sweeping six wide move from tenth place to win by four lengths. The bad side of that is the final time in a yawn inducing 1:54.82 and a :13.20 final eighth.  Kid Cruz is a half to Grade 2 winner Spellbound. I don’t think he’s fast enough to win it, but he could pick off tired rivals in the stretch.  Consider for the exotics.

Kid Cruz—Not likely to be part of the early pace, Kid Cruz enters the Wood off a smart 4 length score in a listed stake at this very distance in his last start. Granted that was against weaker than he will face here, but I like that he has a win both at the distance and at this track. All that aside, I’m not sure I like him here, even if the speedsters set a fast pace that falls apart. Pass.

Wicked Strong—(Hard Spun—Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) flashed a hint of promise in the Remsen last year, but hasn’t shown signs of being wicked or strong in either start this year.  They needed a search party to find him after the Holy Bull and Wicked Strong was embarrassed by recent Florida Derby winner Constitution in a nice allowance race in his last start. Maybe the Gulfstream drag strip wasn’t to Wicked Strong’s liking and he’ll run back to his Remsen performance.  Maybe not. Pass.

Wicked Strong—I made a joke about in the past about how you couldn’t say this colt’s name without affecting a New England accent. Turns out I put the cart before the horse. Since I’m soon to be a New Englander myself, this southern gal is going to have to start brushing up on her New England accent…or not. Accents aside, I can’t find a good reason to support Wicked Strong in the Wood. He was well beaten in both the Holy Bull and his most recent start, a NW1X. Maybe he comes on late for a piece of the action, but I’m wicked sure that this one isn’t the winner. Pass.

Noble Moon—(Malibu Moon—Mambo Bell, by Kingmambo) outclassed an average field in the Jerome Stakes to win by two lengths.  His win wasn’t flattered by the runner up Classic Giacnroll, who finished 13+ lengths behind Kid Cruz in the Private Terms.  Noble Moon’s Jerome fractions weren’t particularly fast, but he did flash some speed in his debut. Noble Moon has a classic pedigree and he couldn’t have a stronger distaff family.  He’s a half to stakes winner Forest Bell and stakes placed Mambo Fever.  This is the distaff line of Santa Anita Handicap hero Ron the Greek, Champion Henrythenavigator, Donn Handicap winner Graydar, the ultra-game Musket Man, Group 1 winner Beethoven and Champion Juvenile Silent Screen. His speed figures are improving and he has plenty of upside. If somebody stubs a hoof, Noble Moon might be right there.  Exotics.

Noble Moon—Off since the very beginning of January, Noble Moon faces a tall task in taking on this bunch off the layoff. However, trainer Leah Gyarmati gave him two back-to-back mile works, and he improved his time from the first to the second. From a fitness standpoint, he may be a bet against, but if you’re looking for a price that stands a shot, Noble Moon is a good way to go. Contender.

Harpoon—(Tapit—Christmas Star, by Star de Naskra) is one of the best bred colts in the field. He’s a half to graded stakes winners Cuvee and Will He Shine. Harpoon missed winning the Sam F. Davis by a slim nostril to his stable mate Vinceremos. That was a top effort, and the pretty gray son of Tapit shipped to Aqueduct for the Gotham.  Harpoon was four to six wide the whole race after breaking from the outside, but still made up some ground over the speed favoring track.  I’m inclined to give him a shot at the exotics. Contender.

Harpoon—Was good enough to get second in the Sam F. Davis but digressed to finish 5th against the bunch in the Gotham. Granted he was gaining ground late, but if the top 2 from that spot run the same race they ran last time, I see the result being pretty much the same. He’s a good solid colt, but I think he’s a cut below the best. Pass.

Los Borrachos—(Pulpit—Champagne Taste, by Distorted Humor) is ambitiously taking on the big boys after winning his maiden at Aqueduct. The colt’s dam and second dam Go Go are stakes winners.  Los Borrachos has very similar breeding to Florida Derby winner Constitution, as that one is by Pulpit’s son Tapit out of a Distorted Humor mare.  However, Los Borrachos and Constitution have very dissimilar running and winning styles.  I don’t see it happening.  Pass.

Los Borrachos—Another drunk! But not from the same connections that brought you the dual Grade 2 winner Tres Borrachos. This bay son of Pulpit just broke his maiden in his last start, winning the mile event in a slow 1:39 and change. Though he is sent out by Mott, I just can’t get on board with this one. Personally, I’d have to be pretty “drunk” to back this one with any of my hard-earned cash. Pass.

Kristo—(Distorted Humor—Capote’s Crown, by Capote) raced on or near the lead in four of his five starts.  He was schooled in the San Felipe Stakes, pulling and blowing the first turn, but he settled down and managed to pass tired horses to get up for a very distant third place behind California Chrome and Midnight Hawk.  Sadler probably wants to avoid the Chrome monster in California and pick up some points on the Derby trail for his $500K baby.  Kristo’s stakes winning dam is a half-sister to the Champion Sprinter Smoke Glacken and to the multiple graded stakes winner Smokey Glacken.  Another half-sister bore Robert Lewis Stakes winner Crown of Thorns. Kristo’s pedigree is suspect for 1 1/8 miles and his speed figures are at the lower end of the scale. Pass.

Kristo—Shipping in from the West Coast, John Sadler trained Kristo is hoping to do a lot better than his distant 3rd place finish in last month’s San Felipe. Unable to keep pace with either California Chrome or Midnight Hawk, Sadler is hoping to find easier company for his colt here, something that just may end up happening. Final time is only one piece of the puzzle, but running just a week apart, California Chrome posted a significantly faster final time for the 1 1/16 mile San Felipe than Samrat did in the Gotham, also run at 1 1/16 mile. I really like Kristo’s works leading up to this race and believe he has a good shot. Contender.

Schivarelli—(Montbrook—Alotofappeal, by Trippi) is undefeated in two starts at Aqueduct and he’s been firing bullets like a machine gun in his morning works. Schivarelli has a nice distaff line. He’s a half to B C’s Train, a stakes winning sprinter.  Plus his dam is a half to a stakes winner and a couple of stakes placed sprinters.  That being said, Schivarelli’s pedigree is seriously distance challenged past 1 1/16 miles.  If this race was the Bay Shore, I’d be all over him. Pass.

Schivarelli—Undefeated in two career starts, Schivarelli’s competition saw nothing but his heels in his previous start as he drummed them to the tune of a runaway, 12 length victory. The final time for the mile race was 1:40.25, but I’ll let that slide this time due to the muddy track and foggy weather that day. The chestnut colt has some speed, though, judging by his string of bullet works. Is he another Constitution? Maybe, but I’m not willing to bet on it. I might consider for exotics.

Samraat—(Noble Causeway—Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie) is a perfect 5-5. There’s no doubt that he absolutely loves Aqueduct. He proved in the Gotham that he could slightly rate, go three wide and still win over his nemesis Alydar, I mean, Uncle Sigh. So can he handle the extra distance?  His sire did.  Noble Causeway, a son of Giant’s Causeway, was second in the 2005 Florida Derby and later won an allowance at 1 1/8 miles. Samraat’s damsire Indian Charlie won the Santa Anita Derby and was third in the Kentucky Derby. There’s some stamina and class in Samraat’s distaff line. His dam is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Nonsuch Bay, heroine of the Mother Goose (G-1) at 1 1/8 miles.  I can’t argue with perfect.  Major Contender.

Samraat—For all intents and purposes, Samraat is the one to beat. Perfect in 5 starts, the Gotham was the closest he has ever come to getting beat. With so much speed in here and him being drawn to the outside, now might be the time to take a stand against the undefeated colt. He’s had some nice mile breezes down in the Sunshine State, so maybe those works will give him the lung capacity to power through the extra sixteenth in the Wood. Contender.

Effinex—(Mineshaft—What a Pear, by E Dubai) won his maiden through disqualification, then whomped state-bred optional claimers by over six lengths just 23 days later. Now, after 13 days off, he’s taking on Grade 1 company at 1 1/8 miles. Effinex’s dam won the Busher Stakes at Aqueduct going 1 1/16 miles and this is the same distaff family that produced Kentucky Oaks heroine Blush with Pride, Belmont Stakes winners Rags to Riches, Jazil, etc.  Despite the nice family, if Effinex can come back in 13 days, jump out of state-bred competition and beat stakes horses at 1 1/8 miles after having raced only 3 times, this Kentucky Derby crop will go down as one of the worst in history.  Pass.

Effinex—Another new comer, Effinex has two wins from three starts, though his very first win came by virtue of the winner being DQ-ed. The dark bay colt last raced on March 23, giving him less than a two week turnaround. Furthermore, this will be his third start in 5 weeks. While I’m not crazy about the short rest, I’ve seen the same feat accomplished in an even shorter time span, so it can be done. If he manages to win or even hit the board and get the points to get in, I’ll like all this races all together even less. There’s a difference in being prepared and being burnt out, after all. This looks to be a Hail Mary to get into the KY Derby, so I expect Effinex to “go big or go home.” Personally, I think he’ll end up going home…or at least waiting for the Preakness. Pass.

Uncle Sigh—(Indian Charlie—Cradlesong, by Pine Bluff) tries so hard. This time, he draws outside of Samraat and might be able to turn the tables on his rival. Uncle Sigh’s speed figures have been improving and the extra distance should be right up his alley. Plus, unlike Samraat, Uncle Sigh hasn’t racked up the frequent flyer miles from Florida.  Maybe he’ll finally get his revenge.  Major contender.

Uncle Sigh—Poor ol’ Uncle Sigh plays second fiddle both on the track and in the Duck Call room. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then please go watch an episode of Duck Dynasty. I promise you won’t regret doing so. After running second to arch nemesis Samraat in the last two, Uncle Sigh will have to dig deep to get past that foe and stay in front. Though this obviously is not the end goal, Uncle Sigh does want to at least run 3rd, and probably 2nd, to ensure a place in the starting gate next month at Churchill. With 24 points, he’s currently sitting 17th in the standings, putting his place in jeopardy if there are in wild finishes to these final 5 prep races. I expect a lively pace, so he’ll need to be sharp, but not overly so. Contender.

Social Inclusion—(Pioneerof the Nile—Saint Bernadette, by Saint Ballado) is the Wood Memorial buzz horse. When he romped in an allowance race, whipping Honor Code and setting a new track record, the offers to buy poured in like Social Inclusion was a blue light special on Black Friday.  Was his effort as good as it seems? The Gulfstream surface is a speedway and that Honor Code clearly wasn’t himself (and is now on the sidelines with a ligament tear), so, no, possibly not.  However, Pioneerof the Nile’s babies are tough, game contenders, just like their sire. They should have no problem getting classic distances.  I’m not 100% sold on this colt just yet.  Social Inclusion could be another Bellamy Road.  That one won an allowance race at Gulfstream by 15+ lengths and set a new record in the Wood Memorial.  He’ll either run big or regress.  Either way, I have to include him. Contender.

Social Inclusion—Perfect in 2 starts, Social Inclusion is one of several heading into this year’s KY Derby seeking to buck the Apollo trend. A runaway winner of both career starts, Social Inclusion likes to be on the lead and has plenty of speed. On March 29, he put in a super sharp ½ mile drill in 46:80, showing that he’ll be ready to run when the gates clang open. In terms of post, he got the short end of the stick, and jockey Luis Contreras will have to use him early…and probably often…to get a good position. If he can rate, then he stands a huge chance of blowing by them all in the stretch. If not, then he’ll likely be cooked. Contender.



Conclusion:  Almost half of the field are pace setter/pressers.  We have Samraat, Uncle Sigh, Social Inclusion, Kristo and Noble Moon who can be in the first two flights. 66% of the winners at Aqueduct are successful on or near the lead, so I expect the exacta will consist of three of these colts. Stalkers win at 22%, and there’s always that one horse who passes the field to get up for third or fourth.  Favorites win the Wood Memorial 35% of the time, but finish in the money 77%.


Laurie: I see three scenarios: We’ll be treated to Gotham Stakes part duex, Uncle Sigh will finally turn the tables on Samraat, or Social Inclusion will pull a Bellamy Road performance.   I’ll go with Plan B.  Take your pick for the fourth place finisher.  Noble Moon or Harpoon could spoil the party if the race falls apart or something untoward happens.  Kid Cruz could clunk up for a piece.


Ashley: I see a clear divide between those with a chance and those without a chance. Looking through the past performances for the field, I got the feeling that the early pace will be lively with Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and Social Inclusion all drawn to the outside. Those three will burst out of the gate like their tails are on fire in the effort to get a good early position and avoid the overland journey. Schivarelli flashed early speed in his last race, Noble Moon likes the lead, and Harpoon and Kristo have both also shown early speed in the past. As much as I like Samraat and Uncle Sigh, this may just be the race to play against them both. I think Kristo will sit off the pace here like he did in the San Felipe and pick up the pieces when the pace collapses. I’ll key him over Samraat, who has yet to do anything wrong, Uncle Sigh, and Social Inclusion.



Laurie: Uncle Sigh, Samraat, Social Inclusion, Harpoon


Ashley: Kristo, Uncle Sigh, Samraat, Social Inclusion 


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Older Comments about Kentucky Derby 2014: Handicapping the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial...

"Two Beau Purple trainees. I like both", one scratched and won next time out, the other won this. Not bad
Funny to read this so far after the fact. Wicked Strong. Surprise!
Rveiw this race and you will realize that mine that bird was a notable exception to its running not the rule
There is no illusion here Karnack. There is a reality of youdouble and triple talking. The horses i mentioned came from the clouds,maybe their intellect was just that much greater than the closers that failed. Somehow they were able to conclude exactly what the right time in the race it was to make a move. Vic i made a mistake when i challenged you to give me a thought in your head. That did not work out to good for you,as evidenced by your sorry response. Go back to quoting quacks in print and Internet Media. At least that way it is not a reflection to your true Achilles heel. Lack and grasp of knowledge in Horse Racing.
often VERY often what the EYE sees ( big late move) is an illusion of the pace falling apart up ahead. FLying Pirte, the pace setter, completely fell apart as did Join the Dance and Regal Ransom. ONLY Pioneerof the Nile stayed close to it
My apologies to further support that your argument. Lest not forget the speediest of the speed. Mr. Mine that Bird,he was so spedy that they actually made a Movie about him.
How right you are as always Vic. Thankfully for their connections>>>>Street Sense , Super Saver , Giacomo , Monarchos and just last year OOOOrrrrrbbbb all had that monster early pace to put them in the mix. After all everyone knows that DEEP MOVERS never win this race. Another brainstorm statement for the fortune cookie buisiness.
I've never seen the whip come out on Sammy. HE does it all on heart.Strong at the finish and won't let anyone by. Rocky
depp movers NEVER (other than the Z girl) are lucky enough to figure JUST exactly when to move nor can they be assured that the trip UP to the pace will be clear having to run through the decelerating pace horses.
I like Uncle Sigh here.
Would love to see a deep closer win this race...god knows we already have tons of pace for the derby..be nice to include some closers in our hc for the roses run
Every time a horse runs a number he is the next Seattle Slew. I don’t understand taking the low tote value of 7-5 in this spot. If he wins I miss $4.80. I think I can live with that. I would rather find an overlay hoping SI is good just not great. I lean to closers as this race has collapse potential with several who prefer the front end. The track announcer may be calling “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP” as they hit the 8th pole tomorrow.
If Kristo wins I'll eat hay... if he hits the board I'll be surprised.
NO ONE uses a bar shoe with intact hooves. THere is a crack
What do u make of the Bar Shoe...Pecautinary?
going with Noble Moon, Kid Cruz and Harpoon
I think 9 furlongs is out of Uncle Sigh's range. It realy could turn out to be a nice betting race. I see it as Samraat and Social Inclusion the rightfull favorites, with Noble Moon and Kristo having the stamina to be there in the end. That being said Im thinking Kristo, Noble Moon will be nice odds. Kid Kruz has a shot but he better be over 15-1. I think Social Inclusion is the real deal but I think he will be the fav at less than 2-1, and I cant touch that here.
Shack i am in full agreement on Noble Moon. From what i am hearing from friends who have seen him in the Mornings,he is coming into this race in better form than his 2 previous efforts. That is good enough for me.In my opinion at least,at full strength Noble Moon is the best horse in the race.
If Kristo wins this, and California Chrome cruises, CC might be even money in the Derby. Very doubtful, IMO. Noble Moon's EP/LP figures match up well, and has shown he can come from off the pace and recover from a horrid start. He wins it here.
Two Beau Purple trainees in the race... I like both

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