Isabelle De Tomaso’s Irish War Cry showed that his dismal showing in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream Park was just an aberration, as he won Saturday’s Wood Memorial (GII) at Aqueduct in emphatic fashion.
Sent off as the third choice in the field of eight, the Graham Motion trainee also showed that he could come off the pace, as he was content to sit in second position while Battalion Runner ran an opening half-mile in :47.34 and six furlongs in 1:11.83.
Turning for home, Irish War Cry was on even terms with Battalion Runner and the two of them opened up a five-length cushion on the rest of the field after a mile clocked in 1:37.67.
With a furlong to go, jockey Rajiv Maragh asked the son of Curlin for his best and the colt responded, spurting away to a 3 ½-length advantage at the finish, while stopping the timer in 1:50.91 for the nine-furlong journey.
“That was more like it. I’m speechless,” Motion said. “I’ve never understood why he would not relax, this horse. He’s very classy, he’s very sensible.”
Maragh, who took over the riding duties from Joel Rosario, was equally impressed by his mount’s effort in the Wood.
“He was always in a smooth rhythm,” Maragh said. “He relaxed real easily. He did everything I wanted him to do without a lot of effort. He did it all in rhythm. He wasn’t rank at all. He settled beautifully. By getting on him in the mornings, I didn’t think I’d have a hard time getting to settle because he goes so easy and comfortable. We ran good together today.”
Like Maragh, Motion felt the extra work in the a.m. paid off.
“I’ve never had a jockey get on a horse in the morning before,” he said. “Me and the agent [Tony Micallef] thought it was sensible to do it.”
Irish War Cry paid $9 to win, $4.70 to place and $3.20 to show. The post-time favorite, Batallion Runner, held on for second, returning $3.60 and $2.50, while Cloud Computing was good for $2.60. The 8-3 exacta paid $34.80 and the 8-3-7 trifecta returned $84.50.