Edited Press Release
Trainer Todd Pletcher has shored up his contingent for the $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) on April 9 at Aqueduct, confirming both Tampa Bay Derby (G2) runner-up Outwork and standout allowance winner Cards of Stone on the final New York stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Outwork and Cards of Stone each turned in their final works for the Wood at their respective training bases on Saturday morning.
Cards of Stone breezed five furlongs over the fast Belmont Park training track, covering the distance in 1:02 2/5. Saturday’s breeze was his third regular workout since beating a group of allowance/optional claimers by 13 lengths on the Aqueduct inner track March 4 to earn a 95 BRIS Speed rating.
The New York-bred son of Bustin Stones broke his maiden and ran second against state-breds going two turns while under the care of trainer H. James Bond before being purchased privately and transferred to Pletcher in January. Cards of Stone’s connections opted to skip the January 30 Withers (G3) and aim instead for the mile-and-70-yard Gander S. for New York-breds, where the dark bay gelding finished a troubled fifth before his recent Aqueduct tour de force.
Outwork, meanwhile, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 for Pletcher at Palm Beach Downs in south Florida. It was only the second breeze for the Uncle Mo colt since running a game second in the Tampa Bay Derby to his Kentucky Derby (G1)-bound stablemate Destin.
Outwork broke his maiden at first asking last April at Keeneland, wiring a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight to draw off by 2 1/4 lengths. He returned fresh as a three-year-old, revamping his initial effort with a 4 1/4-length allowance/optional claiming score against sprinters in February at Tampa Bay Downs en route to his two-turn stakes debut the following month.
“He’s a big, strong colt,” Pletcher said. “I thought he was surprisingly precocious last year when he won the 4 1/2-furlong race. He got some time off after that and everything’s gone really well this winter. He stepped up off one six-furlong race and ran a really key race in the Tampa Derby and we hope that that race and the works he’s had since then will move him forward.”
Tale of S’avall continued his final preparations toward next Saturday’s Wood Memorial, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.05 Sunday morning from trainer Barclay Tagg’s winter base at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Florida.
“He’s doing great,” Tagg said. “It was a very nice work in company and we’re happy with it. Going a minute, it was just what we were looking for.”
Tale of S’avall is a Kentucky homebred for owner Charles Fipke, who campaigned the colt’s sire, 2008 Wood Memorial winner Tale of Ekati, who was also trained by Tagg. The owner/trainer duo hope to repeat their previous effort with another victory in the Wood.
With only three career starts, including a pair of fifth-place finishes in his last two – over a sloppy track in the Champagne (G1) last October at Belmont Park and, most recently, in his first start of the year on March 5 in the Tampa Bay Derby – Tale of S’avall is left with one shot in New York to make the first Saturday in May.
“Our backs are (kind of) to the wall here,” Tagg acknowledged. “We had to run him in the Tampa Derby since it was the only place we could go at the time to try to get him some points and he couldn’t do it, so now we’re running in the Wood.
“He kind of bruised his feet in the Champagne and we tried to get him to the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile [G1]). We took him down there to Kentucky and we had slop the whole week. For a while, we’ve had to deal with a series of minor issues with him, just baby stuff. We took our time getting him back, got him all fixed up.
“The Derby’s very difficult to get into,” Tagg added. “I’d like to get there the right way and we’ve had to shift around a little bit to try to make that happen. We’re up against it but, anyway, that’s where we are.”
Tale of S’avall is expected to arrive in New York on Thursday by plane.
The 1 1/8-mile Wood virtually guarantees its first and second-place finishers a starting spot in the May 7 Run for the Roses, offering 100 qualifying points to the winner as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby system, 40 points to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth.
Destin (outside) & Outwork (inside) photo courtesy of SV Photography