January 24, 2022

El Areeb works half-mile for Wood Memorial

El Areeb and trainer Cal Lynch (c) Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

Multiple Grade 3 winner El Areeb breezed a half-mile in :49.40 over Laurel Park’s fast main track on Thursday morning for trainer Cal Lynch.

With regular rider Trevor McCarthy in the saddle, El Areeb worked in company with four-year-old stakes-winning stablemates Winter and Vorticity, who were each credited with a time of :50 for four furlongs.

El Areeb  romped in both the Jerome Stakes (G3) and Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct over the winter before finishing a well-beaten fourth last out on March 4 in the Gotham Stakes (G3). The gray son of Exchange Rate is expected to return to New York for the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) on April 8.

“He worked a mile and an eighth and finished up really, really well. We were very pleased. Everything’s good,” Lynch said. “I’ll talk to the owners after his work next week and we’ll make a plan, but it looks like the Wood’s on schedule unless something changes.”

Lynch has two more works – March 29 and April 4 – planned for El Areeb ahead of the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial. The Kentucky-bred sophomore worked in company for the second straight time after clocking four furlongs in :51.40 with Winter on March 17.

“I put him in behind horses today. He was like two or three lengths behind those two horses and then finished up a little stronger than they did,” Lynch said.

“I just wanted to make sure Trevor felt the horse relaxing for him. It’s going to be him on him in the afternoon so I just wanted to give him the feel of a race scenario and have him on there to know how he felt. He was very good today. I was very pleased.”

Despite his loss in the Gotham, El Areeb is one of the leading hopefuls for the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs. He currently boasts 30 points toward a starting berth in the Run for the Roses, good for position number nine on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.

“I’m pleased with him. We were pleased with how he came out of the (Gotham), it was just one of those things with the pace scenario unfortunately,” Lynch said. “He’s always been a nice horse and he’s continued to be. We’re just optimistic he shows up with a little different pace scenario next time and we’re hopefully looking at a different result.”