Todd Pletcher will be heading to the Kentucky Derby once again this year after his colt Outwork got a head in front of longshot Trojan Nation at the wire to win the Grade 1, $1 Million Wood Memorial. It was Pletcher’s fourth victory in the marquee race of Aqueduct’s Spring meet.
The win earned Outwork 100 Kentucky Derby qualification points and that will guarantee him a spot in the field. On a muddy, sealed track caused by a weekend of torrential rain there’s really no reason to critique Outwork’s victory–he won and that’s what matters. Besides, there are worse things for a colt to have on his resume than a gutty performance in bad weather heading into the Kentucky Derby. The weather in Louisville in early May is notoriously unpredictable and there’s great value for a horse to have proven his ability to run in the slop.
Outwork almost found himself victimized in what would have been an upset of historical significance. He was forced to hold off the late charge of a maiden named Trojan Nation–a huge longshot at 81/1. But Outwork did enough in just his fourth career start to earn the win and get into the Derby. It now gives Trojan Nation the curious possibility of entering the Kentucky Derby field despite never having won a race. Trojan National held on to finish in second place earning 40 qualification points. Adventist finished third, good for 20 points and Matt King Coal took fourth in his stakes debut which gave him ten points.
The biggest disappointment of the day was Gotham Stakes winner Shagaf. Shagaf finished fifth but was never a factor. He’s got enough Kentucky Derby qualification points to get into the field and it sounds like that’s the direction his connections will be taking. Trainer Chad Brown gave this postmortem: “He elected to go inside and made a sharp middle move there and just had enough of the mud. We’ll just see how the horse comes out of the race and go from there. If the horse is healthy I’m inclined to hope for a dry track at Churchill and a better trip. I m confident the horse can get a mile and a quarter.”