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Wood Memorial Stakes Betting

Tips for Betting the Wood Memorial

The Wood Memorial Stakes has been run since 1925, and since 1960 it has been held at  Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York. The race is for 3-year-olds contested at 1 1/8 miles and serves as New York’s marquee prep race in early April on the road to the Kentucky Derby. In 2017, the race dropped to a Grade II event and currently has a $750,000 purse.

In 2005, Bellamy Road won the Wood in a record time of 1:47.16 and crushed the field by 17 lengths. The last Wood Memorial runner to go on to win the Kentucky Derby was Funny Cide in 2003. Yet a number of strong colts have won the Wood since then, including Empire Maker, Tapit, Tale of Ekati, Eskendereya, Gemologist, Verrazano, Wicked Strong, and Frosted.

Six Triple Crown winners have won the Wood Memorial, and some great Wood champions have also on the Kentucky Derby: Gallant Fox, Count Fleet, Foolish Pleasure, Seattle Slew, Pleasant Colony and Fusaichi Pegasus. The great Secretariat finished 3rd in the Wood Memorial. Back in those days, horses often ran more races and built up greater stamina.

A look at the winners since 2006 shows many strong favorites winning the race with five of them at odds of 6-5 or less. Only three of the last 12 winners went off at odds greater than 7-2, and none were higher than 9-1.

When trying to identify a style for the winner of the Wood, look for a horse that has shown an ability in recent races to press or stalk the pace and hold up going at least 1 1/16 miles. If they have at least shown well going 1 1/8 miles even better. A mid-pack runner that is showing improvement or strong speed figures in recent races can also do well in the Wood Memorial.

While Frosted and Wicked Strong came from off the pace to win since 2014, neither was too far back.

Why bet the Wood Memorial Stakes?

Horseplayers look forward to Wood Memorial Day – the premiere Kentucky Derby prep race highlights an excellent card that signifies the arrival of spring in New York.

The doldrums of winter racing are over as top stables have migrated back their best stock back to New York from Florida, and the $1 million Wood Memorial is rich with history, with five of the 11 Triple Crown-winning Thoroughbreds competing in the 1 1/8-mile race at Aqueduct.

There are numerous betting opportunities – Wood Memorial Day featured 12 races in 2014, with the main event anchoring a $500,000 Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 4. Weather can play a factor, especially since it’s early in the season for turf racing in New York, but the betting fare promises to be strong regardless of conditions.

The Wood Memorial is often an important handicapping tool for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs four weeks later and the Gazelle Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile test for three-year-old fillies on the Wood Memorial undercard, serves the same role for the Kentucky Oaks, one day prior to the Kentucky Derby.

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2017Irish War Cry7-2$9.001:50.91Stalking2nd
2015Frosted2-1$6.401:50.31Closer, off pace4th
2014Wicked Strong9-1$20.401:49.31Closer, off pace3rd
2011Toby’s Corner8-1$18.401:49.93Closer, off pace3rd
2009I Want Revenge3-5$3.001:49.49Closer, far back1st
2008Tale of Ekati8-1$19.001:52.35Stalking2nd
2007Nobiz Like Shobiz3-5$3.401:49.46Pressing1st
2006Bob and John2-1$6.401:51.54Stalking3rd