WinStar Farm’s Gemologist has paraded to the post four times in his young career. Four times he has exited the track victorious.
On Saturday, the son of Tiznow looks to make it five straight for trainer Todd Pletcher when he will break from post position No. 6 in the $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct.
Winner of last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) over the Churchill surface, Gemologist easily defeated an allowance group, including graded stakes winner Currency Swap, in his first start of the season on March 16 at Gulfstream Park. With a lone graded stakes victory to his credit, Gemologist could use the graded stakes earnings on the line in the Wood to secure his spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) starting gate.
“With another good performance, some good racing luck, and some graded earnings, he could be in a good spot,” Pletcher told NYRA Press this week.
Gemologist faces a tough field in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile test. Alpha is perfect in his two stakes starts this year. He won the Count Fleet and the Withers Stakes (G3) over Aqueduct’s inner track to begin his season. Bred by Darley, Alpha races in the Godolphin colors and is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.
Street Life burst on the 3-year-old scene with an eye-catching maiden-breaking win on Feb. 11 at Aqueduct. Shortly after that score, Robert and Janice McNair bought into the colt with Hidden Brook under their Magnolia Racing Stable banner. Street Life returned to annex the Broad Brush Stakes in his next start.
The son of Street Sense is conditioned by Chad Brown.
“The longer [the race] the better, but whether he’s good enough to face this caliber of horses yet, we’ll have to see,” said trainer Chad Brown. “I know the talent is there. We’re trying to develop the horse to get ready for some of these nice races. This will be a good test for him. I’m optimistic he’ll give a good account of himself.”
The McNairs are no strangers to the Wood Memorial. They won the race with Congaree in 2001 and again in 2006 with Bob and John. Both of those runners were conditioned by Bob Baffert.
The Lumber Guy steps into graded company for the first time in the Wood following a sharp win in the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel last time out. Owned by Barry Schwartz, the New York-bred son of Grand Slam is trained by Michael Hushion.
“I’m very happy with the way he’s coming into the race,” Hushion said. “He got something out of his last work (1:01.83 on April 1) and it didn’t knock him back at all.”
Stonewall Farm bred the gray colt, who is perfect in his two career tries.
Trainer Nick Zito will send out Robert LaPenta’s Casual Trick. The son of Bernardini recently underwent a procedure to correct a breathing problem. Zito, who won the Wood with Thirty Six Red in 1991, Adonis in 1999 and Bellamy Road in 2005, is hopeful that the breathing issues the colt was having explains his last two dismal performances.
“We’re hoping he’ll breather better,” said Zito, “and that he’ll step up to the plate.”
Also in the field is Sagamore Farm’s Tiger Walk, a son of Tale of the Cat trained by Ignacio Correas IV; My Adonis for George and Lori Hall and JW Singer LLC’s Teeth of the Dog. Post time for the Wood is 5:15 p.m. ET.
NYRA Press contributed to this report.