Updated on 09/16/2011 8:09AM

Good Wood will send Buddha and Bond to Derby


JAMAICA, N.Y. - The fourth race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 9 had just been run and trainer James Bond was crestfallen. Harbor Star, a 3-year-old Bond was extremely high on, finished second in his career debut.

At the time, it mattered little that Bond had won the earlier division of the split maiden race with a horse named , who had run seven furlongs in 1:23, 1.50 seconds faster than the race Harbor Star had lost.

"Of the two horses, I was shocked he won so easily and the other horse got beat," said Bond, who called the race Buddha won a bad maiden race. "I was sick. [Buddha's] race was much weaker; he was supposed to win in my opinion."

Two months later, Buddha is on the cusp of taking Bond where he has never gone before - the Kentucky Derby - while Harbor Star remains a maiden. Saturday, Buddha will make his stakes debut in the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, where a trip to the Kentucky Derby is at stake.

The Wood is so wide open, Buddha could be anywhere from the favorite to fourth choice. The race features San Felipe winner Medaglia d'Oro, Remsen winner Saarland, Florida Derby runner-up Blue Burner, and Sunday Break, winner of his last three starts. Nokoma, Laissezaller, and Iwin are also expected to run.

The Wood will be just the fourth career start for Buddha, a son of 1996 Wood Memorial winner Unbridled's Song. Trained by Bill Mott for his debut, Buddha broke a step slow, moved into contention around the turn, but was finished by the quarter pole and backed up to 10th behind Monthir.

Owner Gary West moved all of his New York/Florida horses from Mott to Bond in December. After winning his maiden in that Feb. 9 race, Buddha dazzled in his next start.

In a March 16 allowance race at Gulfstream, Buddha was caught six wide entering the first turn. Straightening away down the backside, he moved into third behind dueling leaders. Buddha took command approaching the quarter pole and drew off with just one crack of Edgar Prado's whip. He switched back to his wrong lead at the sixteenth pole, but went back to his correct lead nearing the wire. His final time of 1:42.29 was the fastest of three races run that day at 1 1/16 miles.

"He was nothing short of sensational," Bond said. "It wasn't a bad field and I had the worst of it. Edgar [Prado] said he had so much horse and he drew off so quickly."

Later that day, Prado rode Harlan's Holiday to a convincing victory in the Grade1 Florida Derby. Prado will be in Kentucky on Saturday to ride Harlan's Holiday in the Blue Grass. Pat Day has picked up the mount on Buddha.

"I know Edgar likes this horse a lot. It was a much more difficult decision than most people think," Bond said. "But how can he not ride a 2-1 shot that's favored for the Derby versus a horse that's a question mark?"

While Bond would love to run a horse in the Derby, he says Buddha will have to run huge Saturday to merit a trip to Louisville.

"I think we have to see something pretty dynamite to go to the Derby," Bond said. "I would like to be there, but I only want to be there if I can win the race."

In other Wood news, Laissezaller, a European-based colt, arrived from England early Wednesday morning and was placed in quarantine at Belmont Park. He was to be released in time to train on Thursday. Laissezaller, a son of End Sweep who is 1-2-2 from five starts, will run Saturday for trainer Amanda Perrett - the daughter of Guy Harwood, who trained Dancing Brave. He will be turned over to Bill Mott after the race.

Also arriving Wednesday from California was Medaglia d'Oro. The Bobby Frankel-trained colt will stable with Richard Dutrow in Aqueduct's barn 10.

Frankel sends Shibboleth for Carter

Accompanying Medaglia d'Oro on the flight from California Wednesday was Shibboleth, who will make his dirt debut in Saturday's Grade 1, $350,000 Carter Handicap.

A son of Danzig out of the His Majesty mare Razyana, Shibboleth is a half-brother to seven winners, including group stakes winners Danehill and Harpia. A Group 3 winner on turf in England, Shibboleth finished second, beaten one length in a mile allowance race on turf on March 22.

"The way he runs is a little on the one-paced side," Frankel said. "He loves seven-eighths of a mile. He has won four races, all at seven-eighths. If he transfers his form to the dirt, he'll be very tough."

Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard for the last race, has the call again on Saturday.

On Tuesday, top Carter contenders Snow Ridge and Dream Run arrived from California and Kentucky, respectively.

Scary moments for Gander

There were a few scary moments for the connections of Gander Wednesday morning when the gray gelding was working five furlongs at Belmont Park.

As Gander was making his way around the far turn, a loose horse was galloping the wrong way along the rail. Fortunately, exercise rider Simon Harris saw the loose horse, yanked Gander several paths off the fence and avoided the loose horse, who stayed on the rail.

Gander went on to complete his workout in 1:00.82, the second-fastest of 10 works at the distance. Gander is being pointed to the Kings' Point Handicap on April 28.

"It could have been a disaster," said Tonja Terranova, wife of and assistant to trainer John Terranova. "Thank God, it wasn't. He went awesome; he's doing incredible. He pulled up seven-eighths in 1:26."

* Real Cozzy, winner of last year's Fair Grounds Oaks and runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose Stakes, worked four furlongs in 49.06 seconds Wednesday over Belmont's training track. Trainer Danny Peitz said he does not have a race picked out for Real Cozzy, but said he is considering starting her out on the turf. He said Real Cozzy would likely be ready to run at Belmont in May.