The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, New York will showcase the expected morning line favorite Alpha trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. The Wood Memorial will be televised this Saturday, April 7th on NBC for the $1 Million graded stakes earnings up for grabs in this Kentucky Derby Prep race.
Alpha is a great thoroughbred but I hate the fact he is running in the Wood Memorial for one reason, it’s cursed! The Wood Memorial has the lowest percentage of the five Grade I prep races to have winners go on to even start in the Kentucky Derby. Only 14 of the last 21 winners (67%) have gone on to start in the first leg of the Triple Crown. The Blue Grass has had twenty-one (100%), Florida Derby has had 20 starters (95%), the Santa Anita Derby has sent on 18 for (86%) and the Arkansas Derby with 17 for (81%).
The most memorable or forgettable victims of the Wood Memorial curse are I Want Revenge in 2009 and Eskendereya in 2010. I Want Revenge was training wonderfully when just hours before the Kentucky Derby, trainer Jeff Mullins had to scratch the horse due to swelling and heat in his left front ankle. Eskendereya also had to be scratched, this time just days before the race for swelling in the left hind ankle.
So if Alpha wins the 2012 Wood Memorial, it’s not hard to imagine him as the morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby. The early Derby favorite was Union Rags who lost this past weekend to Take Charge Indy and Reveron in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
The last time a Wood Memorial winner entered the Kentucky Derby as the morning line favorite and won was Fusaichi Pegasus back in 2000, Pleasant Colony in 1981 before him and Seattle Slew back in 1977 before him.
When it comes to handicapping and wagering I firmly believe you always bet the streak until it ends! I am superstitious; believe in bad luck, good luck and that people and things (tracks and races) have one or the other. This is why I hate that Kiaran McLaughlin decided to run Alpha in the Wood Memorial and passed up on the Florida Derby when he had the chance.
Alpha has been training very well lately, breezing 5 furlongs on March 24th in 1:00.99 and most recently breezed 4 furlongs in 49:17 on March 30th, so I think we are looking at him running a big race on Saturday.
Should Alpha win the Wood Memorial Stakes televised live on NBC this Saturday then there is a chance he will be the 138th Kentucky Derby favorite. If Alpha runs a big race and runs away with the Wood then he will not only be the Derby favorite but will also be a favorite for the curse of the Wood Memorial too!