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A Wide Open Wood?

It is true that War Pass comes into the Wood Memorial looking for ‘redemption‘ – but he’s certainly not the only one. He’s facing a group of horses who are in similar situations, albeit with a less intense light shined on them. Barclay Tagg sends out the lately-underperforming Tale of Ekati; he’s been working bullets and clearly needs a good finish if he is to progress to the Derby. also has a last-place finish last time out to overcome and neither Giant Moon, Anak Nakal nor Court Vision has lived up to their two-year-old promise (so far). Also flying under the radar is Texas Wildcatter – he’s been finishing well against other Derby probables like Visionaire and seems to hit the board more often than not.

However, the star attraction in the race is clearly War Pass – and it’s do-or-die time (oddly, the list of ‘bad things’ that happened to him prior to or during the Tampa Bay Derby seems to have grown, now minus the controversial midweek fever):

“It’s going to be a day filled with a lot of apprehension and stress,” says [owner Robert] LaPenta of the 11/8-mile Wood. “We’re really looking forward to seeing which War Pass shows up.”

Almost everything went wrong that could go wrong in Tampa. The son of Cherokee Run reared up in the starting gate, then was pinched back by the horses beside him at the start. He could not take his accustomed lead and had nothing left for the stretch run. That caused LaPenta to believe he might have displaced his palate, which would cause serious breathing problems.


“If he runs a very competitive race Saturday, he should go on to the Kentucky Derby,” LaPenta says. “If he runs a very poor race, I would say something is wrong, and we’d have to find out what. We’d have to go back to the drawing board.”

My own take is that even if the ‘real’ War Pass shows up, gets his preferred wire-to-wire run and wins, the Derby is still not his ideal race – he would probably be a very consistent, perhaps even top class, dirt miler – but that’s not where the spotlight goes. Nevertheless, he’s the horse with the most to prove in this race, and anything less than a win or a close second isn’t going to do him any favors.

I would like to see a good race from Tale of Ekati (partially because his bandwagon was one of the few I considered last year) as I think he’s more talented than we’ve seen so far. I also believe Giant Moon could be a legitimate contender if the weather holds – after his miserable finish in the Gotham (which was essentially run in a river), he needs the graded earnings badly.

I am curious to see Court Vision as I believe he was a bit unlucky last time out, and the addition of his rabbit, Inner Light, could certainly be problematic for War Pass. My ardor for Anak Nakal has long since cooled (although I can’t blame Nick Zito for giving him another shot – or for wanting to have ‘another’ horse in this race).

My prediction (barring a deluge) is:
Tale of Ekati
War Pass

Giant Moon/Texas Wildcatter

Kentucky Derby winning odds

2 comments to A Wide Open Wood?

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