A field of seven was entered Wednesday for Saturday’s $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I), with Any Given Saturday now Nobiz Like Shobiz’ main foe in the nine-furlong race following the defection of Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Circular Quay.
Trainer Todd Pletcher changed plans Tuesday night and decided to skip the Wood with Circular Quay and train the son of Thunder Gulch up to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“We had a change of heart when trying to analyze the best way of getting everyone to the Derby,” Pletcher said.
Any Given Saturday, owned by WinStar Farm and Padua Stables, was beaten a nose by last year’s Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) champ Street Sense in the March 17 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), his last start.
“Running him back in three weeks means he now gets four weeks to the big race instead of three,” Pletcher said. “We figured this was the best approach for him. He’s never run a poor race, and we’re hoping he moves forward to his next race.”
Pletcher also entered Gotham (gr. III) winner Cowtown Cat in the Wood Memorial, but he will likely scratch and run in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) the same day.
Nobiz Like Shobiz, who has raced greenly in his two starts this year – a win in the Holy Bull (gr. III) and a close third in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) – will race with blinkers for the first time.
“He’s got plenty of talent, but he’s still a little immature,” trainer Barclay Tagg said. “Hopefully, the blinkers will help. He’s never done anything wrong in the mornings, so it’s hard to say what impact the blinkers have had on him in his training. I’m very anxious about the Kentucky Derby, but for some horses it takes longer than May 5th to mature.
“He did well last fall over this track and distance, so I don’t see why he’d have a problem Saturday,” Tagg said.
Summer Doldrums, the beaten even-money favorite in the Gotham, will try to run back to his Feb. 10 Whirlaway effort when he easily handled lesser by 5 1/4 lengths. Within striking range in the Gotham but three-wide around both turns, the Street Cry colt finished evenly to be a close third.
“He obviously regressed in the Gotham, but still only got beat 2 1/2 lengths by a nice horse,” said Rick Viollete Jr., who trains the colt for Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence. “If he can move back to the level he showed in the Whirlaway, he’s a serious horse. If he runs 1-2, he’s probably in the Derby. If he’s not in the top two, then he probably doesn’t belong in the Derby right now.”
Trainer Shug McGaughey was leaning towards not running the Phipps Stable’s Sightseeing in the Wood, but decided to enter after he learned Circular Quay would not be in the starting gate
“He had a bad post in his last race and was wide the whole way,” McGaughey said. “Getting off a track where you have to go to keep in the race should help him. Aqueduct is a better track to let him get away from there and relax.”
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will start Overbrook Farm’s Flashstorm in the Wood after winning two of three starts at Oaklawn this season. The Storm Catcolt just broke his maiden Jan. 20 and recently took an entry-level allowance by five lengths.
Christopher Hall’s Reptilian Smarts figures to be the longest price in the Wood after upsetting an entry-level allowance group last time out at odds of 14-1.
$750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4:45 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse Jockey
1. Nobiz Like Shobiz (KY), Cornelio H. Velasquez
2. Sightseeing (KY), Javier Castellano
3. Flashstorm (KY), John Jacinto
4. Cowtown Cat (KY), Fernando Jara
5. Summer Doldrums (KY), Michael J. Luzzi
6. Any Given Saturday (KY), John R. Velazquez
7. Reptilian Smarts (KY), David R. Flores
Each assigned 123 pounds.