2022 Wood Memorial Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. MO DONEGAL (5-2) – Controversial Remsen (G2) winner obviously a track-and-distance pro, barn has dominated this race over the past decade, and lone outing this year excusable as it was arguably at a distance shorter than his best and over a track not quite as kind to his style; that Holy Bull (G3) turned out a strong race, too, with White Abarrio and Simplification dominating the remaining Gulfstream preps; pace scenario potentially favorable and off-the-pace types typically have an edge in this race; main concern is, given a win is not absolutely essential to get qualified for the Kentucky Derby (G1), whether his best will be displayed here or five weeks from now.

2. GOLDEN CODE (15-1) – The second of three for Pletcher, who has taken six of the last 11 runnings of the race; New York-bred was a respectable but distant third behind Morello in the Gotham (G3), failing to keep pace in the final furlong; additional ground might help him close the gap some, but he faces a couple other very talented colts in addition to that one here; maiden win was achieved on a slow-playing muddy surface, and those conditions not expected to come into play here; small slice seemingly best-case scenario.

3. EARLY VOTING (5-2) – Speedy son of Gun Runner is lightly-raced heading into this, but has demonstrated loads of potential; ran away from his rivals in the nine-furlong Withers (G3) while left on a lonely lead, though raw time was extremely slow and only Un Ojo, modestly via his big upset in the Rebel (G2), has flattered the form; more than likely will try to win this using similar tactics, but there’s some other speed that could keep him honest; main concern is that you have to go back 17 years, to Bellamy Road, to find a horse that won this race wire-to-wire.

4. LONG TERM (20-1) – Pletcher won this race last year with the biggest longshot ever to win it, but taking it with a maiden would be a considerable feat; hasn’t run all that badly in a quartet of graduation attempts, but has also been disappointing in coming up short twice at odds-on and more recently as a 6-5 favorite; has enough speed to possibly help soften up Early Voting, thus aiding stablemate Mo Donegal, but would be quite a surprise if he made this his diploma-earning score.

5. MORELLO (8-5) – Couldn’t have looked any more impressive this winter in three dominating performances, the last two in stakes company under hand encouragement late; the big question has always been whether he can translate that form over a distance ground – he does give the visual impression of being a superior one-turn type – so that will be determined here; sire won the Arkansas Derby (G1) and narrowly missed in the Preakness (G1), so seemingly has the pedigree tools to get this far (the Derby distance remains another matter); shouldn’t be too far off of Early Voting and looms an obvious danger.

6. SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING (15-1) – Third time was the charm in passing his N1X condition over this distance, but had the benefit of a very fast pace to chase; doubt he’ll receive that kind of help here and, though evidently improving, was relatively exposed in a pair of earlier stakes attempts.

7. A. P.’S SECRET (20-1) – A longshot in the Fountain of Youth (G2), he was battling for the lead approaching the stretch, but was already beginning to lose ground when knocked into; then he had another rival clip his heels, and was not persevered with through the stretch and finished seventh; that effort doesn’t inspire significant confidence that a step up in distance is what he wants, his two earlier wins occurring around one turn; figures to be well-positioned near the front, but doubt the necessary staying power is there to upset.

8. BARESE (8-1) – New York-bred from the family of Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument has faced state-bred company exclusively to this point, but has done his part to warrant the class hike by winning all three times; speed figures are improving and well within range of what it will take to earn a minor slice, at the very least, but faces rivals that are more battle-tested against stronger foes; tall order to upset them all.