Trainer Chad Brown thinks he might have the right horse at the right time in the Wood Memorial, one of three major prep races Saturday on the road to the Kentucky Derby.
Brown will send forth the lightly raced 5-2 second choice Cloud Computing at Aqueduct. Cloud Computing, who ran second in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes in his most recent race March 4, will be making only his third career start.
“He would definitely have to be bucking history,” Brown said. “But this horse is so talented, and he deserves a chance to put himself in the conversation.
“It’s an ever-changing sport. Things change over time. Sometimes horses get on a conventional path to big races. I’m patient by nature with horses. He comes into the Wood off of five weeks rest. It looks like there is enough speed on paper to create an honest race. Cloud Computing will have to run his career best to win, but we have a horse coming in the right way.”
Todd Pletcher’s Battalion Runner, making just his fourth career start and his debut against stakes competition, is the 2-1 favorite in the eight-horse Wood. Pletcher, who also will saddle Bonus Points (20-1) in the Wood, already has five horses with 20 or more Kentucky Derby points: Always Dreaming (100), Tapwrit (54), Malagacy (50), Patch (40) and Master Plan (20). Tapwrit is the 5-2 second choice in Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
All three of Saturday’s Derby preps award 100 points to the winner, 40 for second place, 20 for third and 10 for fourth.
Two horses in the 1 1/8 -mile Wood who look to restore lost luster are Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes winner Irish War Cry (7-2) and Mo Town (6-1), who won the Grade 2 Remsen last fall and is the only horse entered with a victory on Aqueduct’s main track.
Santa Anita Derby up for grabs
Iliad is the morning-line favorite at 7-2 for Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby, but the Doug O’Neill trainee seems to have struck fear in no one. Even O’Neill has three other horses in the field of 13 — Term of Art (12-1), So Conflated (15-1) and Milton Freewater (30-1).
Last time out, Iliad ran second to Mastery, the Bob Baffert colt who pulled up post-race with a fractured leg.
The injury ended Mastery’s Kentucky Derby trail but not Baffert’s hopes. The Hall of Fame trainer will start Reach the World (5-1), American Anthem (5-1) and Irish Freedom (20-1) in the Santa Anita Derby. John Shirreffs will saddle a pair in Gormley (9-2) and Royal Mo (10-1).
“I think if Mastery was running in it, Iliad would have run for sure, but the other three might have taken a different route,” O’Neill told the Los Angeles Times of his contingent. “(What happened to Mastery) opened up the door to a lot of horses that they thought could have some success on Saturday.”
Saturday’s Kentucky Derby prep races
Where: Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, N.Y.
Post time: 5:52 p.m. EDT
TV: NBC Sports Network
Favorite: Battalion Runner (2-1)
SANTA ANITA DERBY
Where: Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Post time: 7:12 p.m. EDT
TV: NBC Sports Network
Purse: $1 million
Favorite: Iliad (7-2)
Wood Memorial field
Irad Ortiz Jr.
Irish War Cry
Santa Anita Derby field
Term of Art
Reach the World
Battle of Midway
J. Eric Kruljac
Tiago Josue Pereira