Wood Memorial Stakes Race History
The Wood Memorial Stakes is held annually every April at Aqueduct Racetrack at Ozone Park in Queens, New York. The East Coast Kentucky Derby prep is for three-year-olds and has been running every year, in one form or another, since 1925. It’s run on a dirt surface and horses travel counter-clockwise on the track. In 2017, the graded stakes designation for the race was changed to a grade II event; since 2002, it previously ran as a grade I stakes.
Every year the Wood Memorial Stakes is considered a major prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. 2000 was the last year a horse who won the Wood Memorial Stakes had also won the Kentucky Derby in the same year. Prior to that drought, 11 Wood Memorial Stakes winners would win the Kentucky Derby between 1930 and 2000.
Wood Memorial Stakes Records
The biggest margin of victory in the Wood Memorial occurred in 2005 when Bellamy Road set a new stakes record at 1 1/8-mile distance, with defeating Survivalist by 17 ½ lengths. Bellamy Road was ridden to victory by 2017 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductee Javier Castellano. Bellamy Road was trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito and owned by infamous New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
The record for fastest time at the Wood Memorial Stakes is 1:42.00. The record is held jointly by Pompey and Johnstown. However, they both set the record when the race was 1 1/16 miles in length. The fastest winning time in the modern era is 1:47.16, which was set by Bellamy Road in his record-shattering 17 ½ lengths win in 2005.
The record for most Wood Memorial Stakes wins by a jockey is held by Eddie Arcaro, while the record for most wins by a trainer is held by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons. Arcaro and Fitzsimmons teamed up for one Wood Memorial Stakes win in 1957 with Bold Ruler
Notable Wood Memorial Stakes Winners
Many Hall of Fame horses have a Wood Memorial Stakes victory on their resume. A few of the more noteworthy and recognizable names include Gallant Fox, Twenty Grand, Johnstown, Assault, Native Dancer, Damascus, and Seattle Slew.
One of, if not the greatest, racehorse of all-time is a notable loser when it comes to the Wood Memorial Stakes – Secretariat. Prepping during what would turned out to be the year he won the Triple Crown, Secretariat would finish in third in the 1973 Wood Memorial Stakes.