You can tell the summer is still here. Why? There are marquee G1 races contested at Saratoga Race Course. The marquee race of the weekend is arguably the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes. The Woodward is run at a 1 1/8 miles over the traditional dirt surface and Saratoga has been home since 2006. Three year olds and up are eligible for the Woodward.
Moreno is the M/L favorite at 2/1 with Itsmyluckyday a close 5/2. Zivo earns the third choice at 5/1 off a last to first win in the Suburban. There is a large group at 8/1 including Micromanage and the coupled entry of Long River and Romansh. Overall, there is a field of 10 that will enter the starting gate for the 2014 Woodward.
Race: Woodward (G1)
Location: Saratoga Race Course
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Post Time: 5:45 PM EST
|1||8-1||Long River||Ortiz Jr||Never won a Graded Stakes. Finished 7th and 5th in last two tries at the distance. Should stalk the pace but not sure it will matter. Blinkers being added. Coupled entry is nice.|
|1A||8-1||Romansh||Ortiz||Never won above a G3. Poor showing against many in this field at the Whitney finishing 7th. Two G3 wins at this distance but this is a much tougher field. Coupled a plus.|
|2||5-2||Itsmyluckyday||Lopez||Here come the blinkers but do not expect him to press Moreno on the lead. This is a focus move only. Second in Whitney broke a three race winning streak. Easy to forget but never won at G1 level. Still a contender.|
|3||8-1||Micromanage||Maragh||Never won above a G3. Seems to have found calling at long distance with win in Birdstone and 2nd in the Brooklyn. Just do not think the race suits him. Castellano hopped off after win. Not a good sign. Possible if Maragh finds clear sailing late. He is perfect at the SPA.|
|4||2-1||Moreno||Alvarado||Deserving favorite one the Whitney here at the beginning of the month. In three lifetime Saratoga starts, finished no worse than 3rd in all graded stakes. Never missed the board at this distance.|
|5||12-1||Prayer for Relief||Velazquez||One win since Sept 2013. 4th last out in the Whitney. Just don't like the spot but does have Velazquez.|
|6||5-1||Zivo||Lezcano||6 race winning streak and 7 of last 8. Stepped up in class in the Suburban taking down some in this field including Moreno. Concern is the rail had to open for him to get through half way through the turn. Needs racing room that might not be there. Possible.|
|7||10-1||Norumbega||Castellano||Another one that adds blinkers for the Woodward. Boom or bust in last 4 starts with s 2nd in the Skip Away and a win in the Brooklyn mixed in with two 8th place finishes. Won allowance at the distance. Third off short layoff and Castellano chose him over other options.|
|8||15-1||Last Gunfighter||Bravo||Uninspired in last two starts with 5th and 9th respectively. Won in two in a row including G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup prior. He knows how to win but everything will have to fall perfectly. Switch back to Bravo is a plus and is 3 for 5 at this distance. 5 year olds tank is not as empty as some think.|
|9||30-1||Stephanoatsee||Rosario||Has not won since 2012 and never in NY. Interesting choice for Rosario. Does he know something everyone else doesn't? Will be longest shot but hey it is the SPA so miracles can happen but would not bet a penny.|
Breakdown and Betting
Looking at the field for the 2014 Woodward it is hard to predict who, if any, will push Moreno on the lead. It appears that he will be setting the pace and should be able to click off fractions of his choosing. The only two possibilities I can see are Itsmyluckyday, with blinkers added, pushing up front but that would be suicide based on his historical inability to hold after a pace duel. More likely and not widely discussed is Rosario on Stephanoatsee, I can see this horse switching in an attempt to try and steal from the front. It won’t work but that could be deadly for Moreno is that occurs.
For me this is a race filled with possibilities. If Moreno is afforded the opportunity to pace the field with only minor pressure I cannot factor a way he does not hit the board. But, and it is a big but, I see two horses that could come in at a price.
First is Norumbega, who adds blinkers, and has learned from the early attempts to flash speed. I expect him to rate in the Woodward off a two month layoff. He is also two-for-two at the SPA which just adds to the logic. Trainer goes at 20 percent with layoffs of this type but admittedly not normally running back in a G1. Factor in that Castellano chose to stay here leads me to believe there is something special in store.
Secondly is the good ole five year old, Last Gunfighter. It is true that he is zero for 2014 while Castellano was aboard. Clearly there is nothing wrong with Castellano as a jockey but sometimes the horse and jockey just don’t mix. Joe Bravo and Last Gunfighter have gelled in the past (wins at the GIII Iselin and GII Gold Cup) and have the chance to do so again. Last Gunfighter is also three-for-five lifetime at the distance and has been training at Saratoga instead of Belmont. He will also be part of a small group that should rate in the race. Clearly, the previous assumes he can run back to a bit of his old form. He could be live at a very nice price.
Below is how I would play $20 and $50 at the 2014 Woodward. Keep in mind there is an eye to value here. As always, if you have to scrounge up to find $5 or $10 for the race I would pass and just watch. Pay the bills and enjoy the day. Don’t forget, this is supposed to be fun.
|2014 Travers Betting Options|
|$1 Exacta Box||4 with 7 with 8|
|$1 Trifecta Box||4 with 7 with 8|
|$4 Win/ Place||7|
|$2 Exacta Box||4 with 7 with 8|
|$ 1 Trifecta||7,8 with 2,4,7,8|
|$.10 Superfecta||7,8 with 1,2,3,4,7, 8|
|$5 Win/ Place||7|
|$2 Win/ Place||8|