Gemologist holds off Alpha to win the Wood Memorial and a ticket to the Kentucky Derby [Horse Racing]
Gemologist stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with a win in Saturday’s $1,000,000 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial Stakes (Grade 1). The $600,000 purse for first place now guarantees the son of Tiznow a spot in the Kentucky Derby’s limited field.
As expected, the front-running The Lumber Guy broke for the early lead setting sharp fractions of :23 for the first quarter mile. My Adonis and Gemologist followed in second and third, respectively. Sent off as the favorite at odds of 6-5, Gemologist began to make his move on the far turn. My Adonis wedged himself between The Lumber Guy and Gemologist as they turned for home, but soon gave way into the stretch.
As Gemologist drew clear of The Lumber Guy and My Adonis, Alpha began to give chase. After being forced to briefly check early on, Alpha, the second choice in the betting at 2-1, emerged on the outside into the stretch, bringing Teeth of the Dog with him. Alpha drew up alongside Gemologist to challenge, but Gemologist fought back. The two dueled to the wire, but Gemologist never relinquished the lead and won by a neck. Teeth Of The Dog was another three lengths back in third, with Tiger Walk another 1 ¾ lengths behind in fourth.
Gemologist will now head to the Kentucky Derby undefeated in five starts and will give trainer Todd Pletcher his best chance to earn his second Kentucky Derby trophy. After a disappointing fourth in the Florida Derby, Pletcher’s early Derby contender, El Padrino, currently sits at number 22 on the graded earnings list, which, at this point, puts him on the also eligible list. With the Toyota Bluegrass next week, if a newcomer wins the race, it could knock El Padrino completely out of the Kentucky Derby field.
Earning $200,000 for his second place finish, Kiaran McLaughlin’s Alpha moved up from number 22 to 14 on the graded earnings list and will take another stab at Gemologist in the Kentucky Derby.
Gemologist paid $4.40, $3.00, and $2.40. Alpha returned $3.10 and $2.80 and completed the $2 exacta for $12.20. Teeth Of The Dog paid $9.70 and completed the $2 trifecta for $187.50. Tiger Walk completed the $2 superfecta for $1,257.00. The final time for the 1 1/8 mile race over the fast track was 1:50.96.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby