The seven-furlong test drew nine colts, including four stakes winners.
Harry and Tom Meyerhoff’s Cave’s Valley (2-1) burst on the scene with three impressive victories and the promise of a bright future on the road to the Triple Crown. Disappointing efforts in his next two starts have left trainer Mike Trombetta regrouping. After debuting with a five-length victory at Saratoga, Cave’s Valley won both the Whirling Ash and Dover Stakes at Delaware Park. Trombetta shipped the son of Stephen Got Even to Delta Downs, where he finished a distant seventh. The colt followed that effort with an uninspired sixth in the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct.
“We did put blinkers on him and hope that helps,” said Trombetta, who has saddled the last two winners of the Miracle Wood with Sweetnorthernsaint and Crafty Bear. “We still have high hopes for him. I think he is a really nice colt. The best thing to do after a couple disappointing finishes is to take a step back and shorten the distance. Another positive is that we do not have to ship him. He has been all over (four tracks in five career starts) but has yet to run on his home track. We are going back to the basics in hopes of turning this thing around.”
Jose Caraballo will ride Cave’s Valley for the first time.
Trainer Ferris Allen, who trained Miracle Wood, the namesake of this race, will start Dancing Count Stakes winner Vanderkaay (5-1). Vanderkaay has won half of his six starts and carried Rosie Napravnik to victory in the Dancing Count. She retains the mount.
“We are delighted with how he is doing coming into the race,” Allen said, “I would say we are very live.”
Gattopardo (5-1) was an impressive 4 3/4-length winner of his most recent outing against entry level allowance runners. Trainer Tim Tullock has saddled the son of Johannesburg for two wins and three seconds in five starts and comes into the race off a pair of bullet works since the Jan. 21 score. Julian Pimentel will ride Gattopardo for the first time.
“The horse is doing great. This is a first step into stakes company so he has a lot to prove but I could not be happier with him,” Tullock said. “What I like best about him is that he gets better with every start and learns something every time we do something with him which bodes well down the line. I think he will run well.”
Cudjo, who finished third behind Cave’s Valley on two occasions, and Apple Special and Malibu Kid, one-two finishers in the Maryland Juvenile Championship, are bunched at 6-1 on the morning line.
$70,000 Miracle Wood Stakes (Race 9, 4:10 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Cudjo (KY), Abel Castellano, Jr., 116, 6/1
2. Vanderkaay (KY), A. R. Napravnik, 122, 5/1
3. Tricky Start (KY), Erick D. Rodriguez, 116, 15/1
4. Regal Solo (MD), Ryan Fogelsonger, 122, 10/1
5. Malibu Kid (MD), Jeremy Rose, 116, 6/1
6. Gattopardo (KY), Julian Pimentel, 116, 5/1
7. Springs Road (FL), no rider, 116, 12/1
8. Cave's Valley (FL), Jose C. Caraballo, 122, 2/1
9. Apple Special (MD), Oliver Castillo, 122, 6/1