Probably the weakest of the three Kentucky Derby prep races on Saturday, the Wood Memorial will send 11 horses to post in a wide-open event.
Post time is 3 p.m. PDT for the race that has a 100-40-20-10 points structure. Finish first or second and you have a spot in Kentucky.
Let’s run through the key horses in the field.
Tacitus (5/2, Bill Mott trainer, Jose Ortiz jockey): Your morning line favorite based on his win in the Tampa Bay Derby. The horse charged home with a big stretch run, ending a little over a length in front. The winner of two of three career starts, Tacitus does appear to be the one the beat, but that’s a lukewarm feeling at best.
Haikal (7/2, Kieran McLaughlin, Rajiv Maragh): Scored in the Gotham over the track and a big close after sitting well back early. The win was the third straight, with the other two coming by just a neck, so the horse has heart to be sure. Not sure what type of speed will be in this race, so closers may have too much work to do.
Tax (9/2, Danny Gargan, Junior Alvarado): Took home the Withers, the first of the Derby prep races at Aqueduct back in early in February. Before that, it was a third in the Remsen, also over the surface so the horse has shown a liking to the track. He’s been off since the start in early February but has been working consistently so he should be ready to go.
Hoffa’s Union (6/1, Mark Casse, Dylan Davis): Only a 15-length maiden score at Laurel to his credit, but the horse did debut in a route race and just crushed the field at the end of February. The horse switched barn after that race and of course there can be concerns of a bounce but might be one to look at.
Outshine (6/1, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez): A strong second behind your favorite in Tampa he’s put together two straight solid runs. Also have Pletcher as your trainer brings instant credibility to a runner, although his better horses are usually not in New York this time of year.
By Dennis Miller