February 2, 2023

Pletcher sends out Battalion Runner in eight-horse Wood Memorial

Battalion Runner won two straight at Gulfstream before the Wood (Photo by Lauren King/Coglianese Photography)

A major factor on the Kentucky Derby trail in recent weeks, Todd Pletcher will try to secure another berth with Battalion Runner in Saturday’s $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct. The gray colt will square off against eight rivals in the 1 1/8-mile event.

The Kentucky Derby qualifier offers points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

Free Wood Memorial PPs courtesy of Brisnet.com

Similar to stablemate Always Dreaming, who took advantage of his lone qualifying attempt when capturing the Florida Derby (G1) last weekend, Battalion Runner will enter his stakes debut off nice wins over maiden special weight and entry-level allowance foes in Florida.

The $700,000 yearling is by Unbridled’s Song, sire of the world’s top racehorse Arrogate, and Battalion Runner figures to appreciate the added distance being out a mare by Tapit, who has sired two of the last three winners of the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes (G1). He’s registered BRIS Speed ratings as high as 101 and retains the services of John Velazquez.

Irish War Cry will be seeking a measure of redemption after fading to seventh as the even-money choice in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream. Conditioned by Graham Motion, the Curlin colt opened his career with three straight wins, including a convincing tally in the Holy Bull (G2) that netted a field-best 102 BRIS Speed rating, and Irish War Cry posted century-topping BRIS Late Pace ratings in every start prior to the Fountain of Youth. He will try to rebound with new rider Rajiv Maragh.

Cloud Computing merits respect following a courageous runner-up effort in the Gotham (G3). A debut winner on February 11, the dark bay colt was caught chasing a hot pace while making his two-turn bow in the Gotham and dug in determinedly when passed by perfect-trip winner J Boys Echo, winding up 7 ½ lengths clear of third. What the Chad Brown trainee lacks in experience could be compensated by his talent and the son of Maclean’s Music will add the services of Irad Ortiz Jr.

Mo Town loses Velazquez to Battalion Runner and will try to turn things around with Javier Castellano. A convincing winner of the Remsen (G2) in his juvenile finale, the Uncle Mo colt brought plenty of promise into 2017 but disappointed when coming back with a well-beaten fifth as the favorite in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds. The Tony Dutrow runner likely needs a top three finish to proceed to Churchill Downs.

Pletcher will also send out Bonus Points but the sophomore will need to find form following well-beaten efforts in the Withers (G3) and Jerome (G3). True Timber placed in the Jerome and Withers, but he’ll be a longshot on Saturday after finishing fifth in the Gotham. Last-out maiden winner Glennrichment and New York-bred competitor Stretch’s Stone complete the field.