04/07/2012 11:47AM

Wood Day Stakes


The early scratches of Off Limits from the Comely and Calibrachoa from the Carter have left the all-stakes late pick-4 at Aqueduct today a 6x8x8x4 proposition where I'm having trouble coming up with plausible longshots to beat the the logical favorites. Here's my cheat-sheet for the sequence, followed by some thoughts on each leg:

The six-filly Comely really looks like a showdown between Broadway's Alibi (even money on the ML) and Millionreasonswhy (2-1). I think they're closer in ability than those prices suggest and could argue that actually getting 2-1 on Millionreasonswhy might be a bargain -- she was excellent in the Adirondack coming closer to beating My Miss Aurelia than anyone else did last year, and is eligible to improve off her solid return making her second start off a seven-month layoff. Welcome Guest looks like the right third choice at 6-1 after winning a good-figure maiden race at Gulfstream but makes her stakes debut against two serious rivals.

The Bay Shore holds some upset potential if the pace is too hot for 9-5 favorite Trinniberg, but even if the race melts down late it's hard to get by 2-1 second choice Hardened Wildcat as the best closer in the field. I might fool around with some interarace exotics getting Trinniberg out of the frame altogether and getting some pricey closers into the mix, but it's hard to see any of them outfinishing Hardened Wildcat for the top spot.

Gemologist and Alpha are deserving favorites in an otherwise pretty thin Wood Memorial. They're faster and more accomplished than their opponents and look poised to keep improving. Street Life seems to be getting a lot of attention as the 4-1 third choice off two deep-closing route wins at Aqueduct, but the horses he was running down in those races look sharply weaker then the favorites here. My Adonis might offer more value as a third horse at 8-1.

The Carter lost some of its sparkle with the defection of Calibrachoa and now has just four betting interests in Caleb's Posse, Jackson Bend, Shackleford and the Godolphin entry of Emcee and Tahitian Warrior. I prefer Caleb's Posse and Jackson Bend but Emcee and Shackleford could be hard to run down in what could well be a slow-paced scenario.

Post time for the Comely is 4:04 pm and the NBC coverage of the Wood, Santa Anita Derby and Ashland starts at 4:30 pm.