04/06/2005 11:00PM

Knocks on favorite Bellamy Road

Gotham winner Survivalist might have distance problems in Wood.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Each of the eight 3-year-olds entered in Saturday's $750,000 has done something to give his connections hope of running in the Kentucky Derby. But none has done enough.

Each will get the chance to earn his way into the Churchill Downs starting gate on May 7 in a Wood field that lacks a true standout. The Wood, which has produced three of the last five Kentucky Derby winners, highlights a 10-race Aqueduct card that also includes the Grade 1 Carter and Grade 3 Bay Shore.

The Wood is the second leg of the NTRA Spring Pick 3 wager, which also includes the Carter and the Illinois Derby. Those three races and the Santa Anita Derby will be televised live by NBC Sports in a two-hour broadcast beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern.

Though he is taking the biggest step up in class of the Wood entrants, Bellamy Road was made the 2-1 favorite by NYRA morning-line maker Eric Donovan. In his only start as a 3-year-old - and his first start for trainer Nick Zito - Bellamy Road won a one-mile second-level allowance race at Gulfstream by 15 3/4 lengths.

Bellamy Road was visually impressive, and considering the rate of success Zito has had this spring, it would be no surprise if he were to win the Wood. Still, there are questions.

Bellamy Road, who won the Grade 3 Cradle at 2, bombed as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity last October at Keeneland. Also, Bellamy Road is likely to be part of a hot pace that likely will include Scrappy T and Going Wild.

"I don't think you can cramp a horse's style,'' said Zito, who won the Wood with Thirty Six Red (1990) and Adonis (1999). "The one thing we've tried to do over the years is get a horse to go a distance of ground. I'm hoping he's gotten into our system and does learn to relax. I'm sure he'll be in the mix."

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has yet to win the Wood, but with Going Wild he has his best chance since Capote finished fourth as the 6-5 favorite in 1987. Going Wild blossomed at Santa Anita, winning three consecutive races, including the Sham Stakes, before losing to 2004 champion 2-year-old Declan's Moon in the Santa Catalina.

Going Wild must prove he can handle the deeper tracks of the East Coast, and his jockey, Victor Espinoza, must try to harness the colt's speed.

The top five finishers in the Grade 3 Gotham were separated by 1 1/2 lengths, which may explain why trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. entered Gotham fifth-place finisher Byanosejoe at the last minute.

Survivalist won the Gotham with a strong closing kick, but he has never run around two turns. Trainer Shug McGaughey, a two-time Wood winner, is anxious to find out how Survivalist fares under such circumstances.

"I know Survivalist is a nice horse," McGaughey said. "Whether it's going to be a mile and an eighth around two turns or not I don't know."

If Naughty New Yorker's actual odds reflect his morning-line of 10-1, he would certainly be worth a play. Everything trainer Pat Kelly has done with him this winter was designed to get him to the Wood. Naughty New Yorker finished fourth in the Gotham (he was placed third), but was bumped, hit in the face with a whip, and bled a little bit in the race.

Kelly will put Naughty New Yorker on the anti-bleeding medication Lasix for the first time. Kelly also plans to use regular blinkers on Naughty New Yorker rather than the extended blinker over the right eye that the colt has been wearing. His running style certainly suggests that nine furlongs is what he wants.

Galloping Grocer ran the best race of his career in a two-turn 1 1/8-mile race here last year, a second to Rockport Harbor in the Remsen. His connections, specifically jockey Mike Luzzi, are convinced Galloping Grocer can be taken off the pace and still succeed. With the amount of speed lined up in the Wood, this looks like the opportunity to find that out.

Pavo might have been the best horse in the Gotham, but was severely compromised when his jockey, Alan Garcia, lost his irons halfway through the race. Garcia did a remarkable job getting Pavo to finish second, but will be replaced by Jerry Bailey.

Scrappy T won the Count Fleet Stakes in January and ran a game third in the Whirlaway in February. Scrappy T's trainer, Robert Bailes, freshened him up for the Wood, and has tabbed Rafael Bejarano to ride.

The field

Wood Memorial
Purse: $750,000; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1

1Scrappy TR. Bejarano10-1
2ByanosejoeJ. Santos15-1
3Bellamy RoadJ. Castellano5-2
4SurvivalistR. Migliore4-1
5Going WildV. Espinoza3-1
6PavoJ. Bailey6-1
7Galloping GrocerM. Luzzi5-1
8Naughty New YorkerJ. Samyn8-1

* All starters carry 123 pounds
* Odds by Art Gropper
* Television: Saturday, 4- 6 p.m. (Eastern), NBC