03/08/2010 12:00AM

Awesome Act still has plenty to prove in Wood

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Despite Awesome Act's visually impressive victory in Saturday's at Aqueduct, his connections have not contracted too strong a case of Derby fever.

Keeping in perspective the fact that Awesome Act did not face a single graded stakes winner in the Gotham, his connections will look to the April 3 Wood Memorial to find out if their horse is good enough to warrant a run in the May 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

"Obviously, he has to show us we're good enough to go further," Wayne Tanner, the assistant trainer to Jeremy Noseda, said Monday morning. "Saturday was not a great race; the Wood is going to be a different race as is the Derby. But at the moment, we're just taking one race at a time."

In his first start in four months and first on dirt, Awesome Act rallied from off the pace to win the Gotham by a deceptively close 1 1/4 lengths over Yawanna Twist. Julien Leparoux, who hit Awesome Act only once in the stretch, was gearing the colt down in the final yards. Still, Awesome Act, a son of 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.85 and earned a solid 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

"We came here to run a big race, our only concern was whether he handled dirt," Tanner said. "We always felt he was a nice horse, dirt-bred, but you don't know until you run and he answered that question Saturday."

Awesome Act shipped in just three days before the Gotham and only jogged on Belmont Park's training track leading up to the Gotham. Now, he will remain in New York and train up to the Wood, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles over Aqueduct's main track. Awesome Act is bedded down in Steve Asmussen's Belmont Park barn.

Tanner said Awesome Act will simply walk until the weekend when he'll go back to the track to resume training.

"He had a busy five days last week shipping in and running," Tanner said. "We'll let him ease down a little bit, get him out maybe Saturday or Sunday."

While Awesome Act did not show any workouts leading up to the Gotham, he did breeze regularly over a synthetic surface at Noseda's yard in Newmarket. Tanner said Awesome Act will have two or three timed workouts leading up to the Wood.

"Now we're here; we'll be training American style from here on in," Tanner said. "Jeremy trained in America, so he knows the routine, so we're going to follow an American routine."

Yawanna Twist and Nacho Friend, second and third in the Gotham in their first start around two turns, will remain under consideration for the Wood, according to their trainers, Richard Dutrow Jr. and Kelly Breen, respectively. Among those expected to ship in for the race are Buddy's Saint, who won the Remsen last fall; Jackson Bend, runner-up to Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth; and possibly Super Saver, last year's Kentucky Jockey Club winner who is slated to make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby.