Cuba Added to Wood Mix; Value Plus Shipping In

(Edited from track reports)
Trainer Tom Bush confirmed Monday morning that Cam Allard's Cuba will run in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct. The Not For Love colt had been listed as a possible starter before working five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, breezing, over a "good" Belmont Park training track Sunday morning with blinkers on.

The work was the best of 17 at the distance where the average time was a slow 1:04.

"The track was quite deep yesterday," Bush said. "I was very comfortable with how he worked. He was blowing quite a bit after the work."

Cuba's two most recent workouts have come in blinkers and the colt will wear them for the first time in a race in the Wood Memorial.

"I've always felt that he might need blinkers," Bush said. "His last two works have been in blinkers now and they've both been bullets. He seems to be more responsive with blinkers."

Cuba broke his maiden at the Wood distance of 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 28 and returned March 12 to run second behind Hornshope in an entry-level allowance at the same distance.

"Two mile-and-an-eighth races 13 days apart isn't exactly what I wanted, but he learned a lot in both races," Bush said. "I know he's going to be a longshot Saturday, but I really think he has a chance. He's doing everything right. Now we just need to find a rider."

Shaun Bridgmohan has ridden Cuba in all four of the colt's races, but his commitment to Swingforthefences leaves Cuba open.

Meanwhile, trainer Todd Pletcher said Aaron and Marie Jones' Value Plus will ship to New York Tuesday from Palm Meadows where he has wintered in Florida.

On Sunday morning at Palm Meadows, Value Plus had his final workout before the Wood Memorial going five furlongs in a sharp :59 3/5, tying him for the bullet.

"He couldn't have done it any easier," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "I couldn't be happier with where we are."

A son of Unbridled's Song, Value Plus broke his maiden at first asking in Saratoga, but went winless the rest of the 2003. Making his last start of the year in the Nashua, he stumbled and lost jockey John Velazquez at the start.

In 2004, Value Plus won his first start back-an allowance at Gulfstream-before finishing second in the Florida Derby (gr. I).

"We only had one seven-furlong race into him before the Florida Derby and the track was not carrying speed in the Florida Derby," Pletcher said. "It was really only his second start since the Breeders' Futurity in October not counting the Nashua."

Pletcher believes that distance will not be a problem for Value Plus Saturday or three weeks from Saturday in the Kentucky Derby.

"When you watch him train, he gives you the impression that he'll run all day," Pletcher said. "His dam's side doesn't scream a mile and a quarter, but he looks a lot more like his sire, Unbridled's Song, and I think he carries more of his sire line than his dam's line. I've got to go by what I see."