Yoshida seeks to win again in Saturday’s Woodward
By New York Hot List Staff
The Older Male Division takes the stage at Saratoga in the $750,000 Woodward (G1) where last year’s winner Yoshida was named the 5-2 morning line favorite in a field of nine.
Coming off a second-place finish in the Whitney (G1) at the beginning of the month, Yoshida will try and become the first horse to win the Woodward twice since it moved to the Spa in 2006. The Bill Mott trainee as not found the winner’s circle since last year but certainly has done his best running at Saratoga.
Tom’s d’Etat won the Alydar which is a local prep race for the Woodward and was assigned morning line odds of 4-1 which makes the Al Stall Jr. runner the fourth choice. Breaking from the outside should put the son of Smart Strike in an ideal position to get a stalking trip with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle for the first time.
“We’ve hit everything we’ve wanted to hit. He’s been training over the Oklahoma training track with two nice breezes and seems pretty comfortable over there,” Stall Jr. said. “We’ve always felt he has Grade 1 talent, we just hope he has the chance to prove it. The New York-bred [Mr. Buff] is in there with some speed, so we definitely want a stalking trip. We don’t have any interest in being on the lead. He did that in a couple of races and we feel like he’s a better finisher coming from off the pace with a target.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has saddled three Woodward winners in Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010) and Liam’s Map (2015), will send three into the starting gate.
Vino Rosso, who won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) back in May, was a disappointment when he ran a non-threatening third in the Whitney and is 7-2 heading into the Woodward. Pletcher has taken the blinkers off the son of Curlin and he responded with a very fast :58-3 workout the other day.
“He breezed super on Friday,” Pletcher said. “It was a real strong breeze. He came out of it with some good energy and has been galloping well this week. It seems like he’s in good form. I think he’s become a more consistent workhorse, although I thought his last breeze was arguably the best breeze he’s ever had. He galloped out real strongly and looks great. His appetite has been good and his energy has been good.”
On the 10th anniversary of Rachel Alexandra’s victory in the 2009 Woodward, her half-brother Wooderson will try and win his first stakes race. Even with a place finish in the Alydar a length behind Tom’s d’Etat, he is 12-1 on the morning line.
“It was a good race. He was closing a bit at the end but just got there too late,” Pletcher said of the Alydar effort. “He’s a horse that we figured would get better with age all along and it seems like he’s starting to find his rhythm.”
Perservationist is also 7-2 on the morning, even though he faded badly after setting the pace in the Whitney. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens is hoping for his runner to return to the form that helped him win the Suburban (G2) at ten-furlongs back at Belmont Park.
“He pulled up [from the Whitney] well and it looks like he’s training well. We blew him out a little this morning and his work last week was good, so we’re taking another shot,” said Jerkens. “A mile and an eighth around two turns is different from a mile and a quarter around a turn and a half. The key to those races is to have an easy rhythm. That’s not always going to work out, but he’s got a nice post. He can tuck in a little and save some ground and make a gradual run from there on. Hopefully he’s good enough.”
The Woodward is slated as Race 11 on Saturday’s 12-race Woodward Racing Festival card, which also includes the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress in Race 3, the Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac in Race 6 and the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls in Race 10. First post is 12:30.
The Woodward will be the feature of Saturday’s Saratoga Live broadcast airing on FS2 from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, and regionally on MSG+ from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Selections from the New York Hot List team for this Saratoga card and every day of racing at the NYRA tracks are available free of charge on this website.