April showers may bring May flowers, but it’s the April stakes that in May a Kentucky Derby winner does make. The 89th running of the Grade I $1 million Wood Memorial will take place on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, NY.
A field of 10 is set to compete in the 1 1/8 mile route on the main track with the undefeated pair of Vyjack and Verrazano headlining the field.
Todd Pletcher’s Verrazano has been installed as the morning line favorite at odds of 4-5. In his last start, the lightly-raced son of More Than Ready won the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) by three lengths in his first attempt going two turns. In his second start, he won an allowance race by an impressive 16 ¼ lengths. His only other start was a maiden in which he bested the field by nearly eight lengths. Although he’s light on experience, Verrazano is heavy on raw talent.
“He’s been a rare horse who’s been able to go from a maiden on January 1 to the Derby favorite on the first of April, which you don’t see very often,” said Pletcher. “He’s been able to handle everything we’ve thrown at him so far and now we have another step to go. We’re optimistic as he continues to develop he’ll be able to continue to handle his assignments.”