Consecrate has only one victory from 10 starts, his maiden win at Del Mar last summer. Since then, the gelded son of Silver Charm is winless in seven stakes tries. This year he ran third behind Imperialism in the San Vicente and San Rafael at Santa Anita and recently finished second in the mile-and-a-sixteenth WinStar Derby at Sunland Park March 28th.
"Right now the plan is to go to the Wood and we've got Chop-Chop (Jorge Chavez) to ride," Baffert said. "The timing isn't ideal, but he came out of his last race well and Mr. McIngvale is willing to take a shot and see where this horse stands."Although Consecrate was the beaten favorite in New Mexico last weekend, Baffert was not displeased with the race. "I think he needs a mile and an eighth," Baffert said of his charge who has not been beyond a mile and a sixteenth. "He just ran out of room in his last race and that was a nice horse (Hi Teck Man) that beat him."
Baffert may also have a soft spot in his heart for Consecrate as he is a son of Silver Charm, who Baffert trained to Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins.
"You have to give Silver Charm's offspring some time," Baffert said. "They seem to get better with every out. Silver Charm is the toughest horse I've ever trained and he's been a successful stallion considering the mares he's been bred to."
Baffert did not rule out a run by Congaree in the Grade 1 Carter next Saturday. Congaree, last year's Carter winner, is 4-for-4 over Aqueduct's main track. He is also under consideration for the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland which is a Grade 2 worth $250,000 as opposed to the Carter's $350,000 purse."We'll see what the weights look like when they come out," Baffert said.John Toscano Jr., trainer of Sinister G., said the Grade 2 Lane's End winner is likely to breeze Saturday or Sunday morning. He has not worked since his gutty performance at Turfway Park March 20th.
"He'll breeze over the weekend on the first dry track we have," said Toscano from Belmont Park where the track was muddy this morning. "We'll just give him a maintenance half-mile. He's had no problems since his last race and he's been keeping fit with strong gallops."Owned by John Toscano III, Robert Toscano, Kim Corrado, Yamile Carlat, Sinister G has a for-sale sign around his neck, but there has been no deal as of yet.
"We're going to wait until after the Wood on that," Toscano Jr. said regarding a possible sale. "We've got to sit down, take a deep breath and analyze everything."Klaravich Stables' Swingforthefences will breeze either Saturday or Sunday at Palm Meadows in Florida and fly to New York on Tuesday, according to trainer Richard Violette Jr.
"We'll send him a half-[mile] or five-eighths just to let him blow out and have some fun," Violette said. "He's pretty fit."
Another possible starter for the wood is Hornshope, trained by Michael Daggett. "You work hard and hope for the best," Daggett said this morning. "Over the years I've had horses that trained brilliantly in the morning, but couldn't outrun a fat man kicking a ball up a hill in the afternoon."
He might have not expected much from Hornshope in the beginning, but Daggett has a hard time not getting excited about the colt these days. Over the weekend, Hornshope, who is easily Daggett's best horse, was one of 39 three-year-olds nominated to next Saturday's Wood Memorial. Daggett is taking a serious look at the race.
"There aren't that many spots to run in," Daggett said. "God only knows if he can beat that caliber of horses, but he trains at Aqueduct, he likes the track and he's still improving. On the other hand, I don't have a lot of horses and he picks up a check every time he runs; financially, he's important to me. I would hate to have his heart broken in there. We'll look over the field and make a decision."
Hornshope, a modestly bred son of Halos and Horns-Ninjetta, by Phantom Jet, has gone 2-3-1 from eight starts with earnings of more than $86,000. And he's been nothing short of solid in his last two starts, finishing a troubled second behind the undefeated Song of the Sword (who is running in Saturday's Illinois Derby) and winning an entry-level allowance here on March 12th over Cuba, who may also run in the Wood.
"His last few races have been very good," Daggett said. "He's a pleasure to have in the barn."
Vincent Papandrea's Little Matth Man, who won Aqueduct's Whirlaway in February and has since finished second in the Battaglia Memorial and third in the Grade 2 Lane's End behind Sinister G at Turfway Park, will ship to Aqueduct the morning of the Wood Memorial, his trainer, Martin Ciresa, said. Apprentice Pablo Fragoso, who won his first riding title at the conclusion of the Big A's winter meet and headed into Friday's card first in the spring meet standings with 18 wins, will have the mount even though his five-pound weight allowance is void in stake races.
"A few agents have called me up asking to ride, but I think Pablo's going to be a top rider and he fits the horse perfectly," Ciresa said. "We're going to ship in the morning of the race. We're going to treat it like any other day. Nothing bothers this horse; he wants to get out there and run. I'm pretty confident."
Little Matth Man, a New York-bred son of Matty G, has blossomed since switching to Ciresa's Philadelphia Park barn and route racing. Overall, he is 2-1-1 around two turns.
"The key with him has been stretching him out," Ciresa said. "The way he sustains his bid is amazing, he just keeps running."