June 19, 2024

Deterministic stretches to two turns, heads baker’s dozen in Wood Memorial; 10 set for Gazelle

Deterministic wins at Aqueduct
Deterministic made his stakes debut a winning one in the Gotham at Aqueduct (Photo by Coglianese Photography / credit to Chelsea Durand)

Unbeaten from two starts, Gotham (G3) winner Deterministic will seek to enhance his Kentucky Derby (G1) credentials in Saturday’s $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct. The 1 1/8-mile race marks the first two-turn attempt for the well-regarded Christophe Clement trainee and Joel Rosario retains the mount.

The Wood offers points on a 100-50-25-15-10 scale as a major qualifier in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and Deterministic is the only entrant in the 13-horse field to already own the points for a berth in the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 4, gathering 50 for the Gotham.

By Liam’s Map, Deterministic overcame a slow start to win his career debut at Saratoga last summer. The dark bay colt returned from a 6 1/2-month layoff in the one-mile Gotham, scoring by two lengths over favored runner-up Just a Touch, who will contest Saturday’s Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland.

Tuscan Sky is a contender in his stakes debut for Todd Pletcher, who will pursue a record-tying eighth win in the Wood. A debut winner sprinting at Aqueduct in mid-January, Tuscan Sky stretched to two turns with a smart two-length score in a Fair Grounds allowance on Feb. 17. He’s generated commendable 97 Brisnet Speed ratings in both starts, and Manny Franco rides the Vino Rosso colt. Pletcher will also send the maiden Protective, who adds blinkers after a troubled trip in a Tampa Bay Downs maiden special weight.

Multiple New York-bred stakes winner El Grande O, second in the Withers (G3) and third in the Gotham, promises to add speed to the mix for Linda Rice. Uncle Heavy will make his first appearance since upsetting the Withers in early February, getting up late to score by a nose, and Mychel Sanchez will be in to ride the once-beaten Pennsylvania-bred son of Social Inclusion for Butch Reid.

Resilience, a convincing maiden scorer at Gulfstream two back, will make his second stakes attempt for Bill Mott following a respectable fourth in a deep Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds. John Velazquez will be back aboard. Mott also has Elysian Meadows, who captured his first two outings over New York-bred rivals and exits a fourth in the Feb. 10 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.

Two races earlier on the program, 10 Kentucky Oaks (G1) prospects will square off in the $200,000 Gazelle (G2) at 1 1/8 miles. The Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifier offers 200 total points (100-50-25-15-10) to the top five respective finishers.

Demoiselle (G2) winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) fourth Life Talk will seek to rebound for Pletcher after opening 2024 with a disappointing unplaced effort as the odds-on favorite in Feb. 10 Suncoast at Tampa. Kendrick Carmouche takes the reins and the Gun Runner filly adds blinkers.

Jody’s Pride, winner of the March 2 Busher at Aqueduct, will contest Friday’s Ashland (G1) at Keeneland, but Busher runner-up Carmelina and third-placer Gin Gin are back for the Gazelle. Where’s My Ring is winless from seven starts in Southern California, but the Val Brinkerhoff-trained daughter of Twirling Candy rates as a contender following a runner-up finish to Kinza in the March 9 Santa Ysabel (G3) at Santa Anita.