By Karen M. Johnson
Complications with travel arrangements could keep the undefeated Denis of Cork from coming to New York for the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr.I) at Aqueduct April 5. Denis of Cork’s trainer, David Carroll, said the other option for the winner of the Southwest Stakes (gr.III) is the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr.II) at Hawthorne Race Course April 5.
Denis of Cork arrived at Churchill Downs from the Fair Grounds March 25. Carroll said the son of Harlan’s Holiday (out of the Unbridled mare Unbridled's Girl) will work either March 29 or 30 at Churchill, and then a final decision will be made regarding his next start.
“I guess I’m leaning toward the Illinois Derby because of the transport and everything involved with that – it certainly plays into the decision,” Carroll said March 26. “The plane (to New York) is iffy for April 2. I’m skeptical about the transportation. I wouldn’t think of having him on a van for 14 to 16 hours to New York, but he could be in Illinois in five to six hours on a van, and that is no big deal.”
Carroll and owner William Warren Jr. opted to skip the Rebel Stakes (gr.II) at Oaklawn Park March 15 to give Denis of Cork more time between races. From three starts, Denis of Cork won a maiden race at Churchill Downs last November; a first-level allowance race at the Fair Grounds Jan. 19; and the Southwest Stakes by 2 ¼ lengths at Oaklawn Feb. 18.
The Carroll-trained Blackberry Road is pointing toward the Arkansas Derby (gr. II).
As of March 26, New York Racing Association stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes listed Court Vision, Giant Moon, Spurrier, Tale of Ekati, Texas Wildcatter, and War Pass as probable starters for the Wood Memorial, New York’s final prep for the May 3 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr.I).
Paulo Lobo, the trainer of San Felipe (gr.II) runner-up Gayego, said March 26 that his colt is under consideration for the Wood Memorial, and a decision would be made this weekend after Gayego works at Hollywood Park.