04/10/2017 3:33PM

Road to the Derby: Wood Memorial analysis

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Ronnie Betor
Irish War Cry earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his winning performance in the Wood Memorial.

Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial, 1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct, April 8, 2017
(100 Derby qualifying points for a win, 40 for second, 20 for third, 10 for fourth)

Winner: Irish War Cry, by Curlin
Trainer: Graham Motion
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh
Owner: Isabelle de Tomaso
Beyer Speed Figure: 101

IRISH WAR CRY, who looked so good winning the Holy Bull (http://www.drf.com/news/road-derby-holy-bull-stakes-analysis) but was so disappointing in the Fountain of Youth (http://www.drf.com/news/road-derby-fountain-youth-stakes-analysis), rebounded in a big way with a fast, emphatic victory in the Wood Memorial. The figure he earned was equal to the revised figure of the Holy Bull; he originally got a 97, but it was upgraded to a 101 in subsequent weeks prior to the Wood being run.

Irish War Cry, starting from the outside post, went into the first turn in third while in the three path, behind and outside of BATTALION RUNNER and TRUE TIMBER. He moved past True Timber into second down the backstretch, was even with Battalion Runner with three furlongs to go, and appeared to be going the easier of the two, with Maragh looking back three times with confidence while on the far turn.  He was shaken up with three-sixteenths to go and came away in deep stretch. The Fountain of Youth remains a mystery, but if you draw a line through that, he’s as solid a Derby contender as anyone. He had a clean trip here, but having tactical speed affords that luxury.

Battalion Runner, who was second, broke well and led from True Timber into the first turn while along the inside. After shaking off True Timber a half-mile into the race, he was immediately engaged by Irish War Cry. He maintained a narrow lead with three furlongs to go, but had to be asked with purpose on the far turn to try and stay on terms with Irish War Cry, and though he couldn’t stay with Irish War Cry through the lane he was well clear of everyone else. This was his first start in two months and his stakes debut. If he can move forward off this effort he’s in the mix come Derby Day.

CLOUD COMPUTING, who was third, broke a step slow, raced three paths wide while toward the rear around the first turn, gained ground down the backstretch while following Irish War Cry, could not keep up with the top two on the far turn, came under a ride before reaching the quarter pole, and lost ground through the lane despite being asked for his all by Irad Ortiz Jr. He has been asked to do a lot in a short amount of time; he debuted on Feb. 11, and this was his third race. He’s got talent, but it might be counter-productive at this stage of his development to throw him into the chaos of the Derby.

True Timber, who was fourth, broke well and raced right on the flank of Battalion Runner around the first turn. He surrendered second to Irish War Cry down the backstretch, followed Battalion Runner around the far turn, was on even terms with Cloud Computing a furlong out but lacked a rally.

The rest were never any factor whatsoever.

BONUS POINTS, who was fifth, lacked speed away from the gate and trailed into the first turn, trailed until the far turn, then passed the stragglers on the far turn while in the three path, but he never got within hailing distance of the top four.

GLENNRICHMENT, who was sixth, saved ground from his rail draw into and around the first turn while mid-pack, started to lose ground midway down the backstretch, was angled off the rail and came into the stretch in the four path but was always outrun.

MO TOWN, who was seventh, wound up in a gorgeous spot around the first turn while saving ground just behind the leaders. He was just inside Cloud Computing with a half-mile to go, but readily yielded beginning with three furlongs to go. The Remsen (http://www.drf.com/news/road-2017-kentucky-derby-remsen-stakes-analysis), which he won last fall over No Dozing and Takaful, has proven to be a negative key race.

STRETCH’S STONE, who was last of eight, was angled in around the first turn to race in the two path, just outside Glennrichment. He could not keep up down the backstretch, was asked aggressively on the far turn, but had nothing to offer.

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