Nine will go postward in Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. The 1 1/8-mile feature has attracted a well-matched field led by defending champ Yoshida (#7) (5-2). ANALYSIS Mr. Buff (#1) (8-1) is plenty quick from the gate and also draws the rail, making the New York-bred the likely pacesetter in the field. Mongolian Groom (#4) (15-1), Preservationist (#5) (7-2) and Tom’s d’Etat (#9) (4-1) all also possess big early speed and will be pressing the pace early on. I envision a swift tempo in the Woodward. Vino Rosso (#3) (7-2) figures to be in the next flight while favored Yoshida will be a few lengths farther back. I think the race will come down to these two accomplished contenders inside the final furlong. WAGERS $20 Win: #3 Vino Rosso = $20 $1 Superfecta: 3,7 with 3,7 with 1,4,5,9 with all = $48 Here is the cast: MR. BUFF (#1) (8-1) – John Kimmel charge has dominated two stakes fields in a row and could be the one to catch in this spot. Friend or Foe gelding is a superb six-for-eight at nine furlongs and will have Jose Lezcano in the silks atop the potential value play. BAL HARBOUR (#2) (15-1) – Steady son of First Samurai comes in off a close second in the Monmouth Cup Stakes (G3) last out. Gelded chestnut, who is one of three from the Todd Pletcher shedrow, draws well near the fence in hopes of bagging his first graded race under Javier Castellano. VINO ROSSO (#3) (7-2) – Classy colt finished a solid third in the Whitney Stakes (G1) most recently and will have blinkers removed for this assignment. Curlin colt has shown versatility in each of his four 2019 races, and the four-year-old comes in with a sizzling five-furlong drill on the course. Regular rider John Velazquez has the call. MONGOLIAN GROOM (#4) (15-1) – Hard-trying son of Hightail just missed second in a strong Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) showing at Del Mar in advance of the Woodward. Four-year-old gelding is twice Grade-1 placed this season, and he could be any kind in his initial Saratoga experience. Luis Saez will guide the dangerous longshot. PRESERVATIONIST (#5) (7-2) – Suburban Stakes (G2) romper took a step back when fourth in the Whitney last time, but the Jimmy Jerkens pupil has trained well in the interim. Lightly raced son of Arch brings substantial early presence to the race and could easily turn things around on Saturday. Junior Alvarado will have the Kentucky-bred close throughout. FOREWARNED (#6) (30-1) – Longshot wasn’t embarrassed in the Whitney when fifth and a move forward could see the son of Flat Out make the frame at a big number in this spot. Uriah St. Lewis-owned and –trained colt will be coming from off the pace beneath Anthony Salgado. YOSHIDA (#7) (5-2) – Horse to beat loves the Saratoga surface and proved his affinity with a hard-charging second in the Whitney (G1) last out. Defending champ put in a pair of solid half-mile drills of late, and the Japanese-bred will aim to circle the field in the stretch under Joel Rosario. WOODERSON (#8) (12-1)Half-brother to the otherworldly Rachel Alexandra ran his best race to date when a clear second in the local Alydar Stakes for Todd Pletcher. Improving four-year-old has never been worse than second on this oval, and he shows a swift four-furlong move in preparation of the Woodward. Leading jockey Jose Ortiz inherits the mount. TOM’S D’ETAT (#9) (4-1) – Live contender prepped for this assignment with a stylish win in the Alydar Stakes for trainer Al Stall Jr. Multiple Grade 2-placed stakes winner is three-for-three at Saratoga and could benefit from having a clear post outside of his foes. Well-bred son of Smart Strike will be in the mix early on with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the stirrups. PHOTO: Adam Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher