Drink up! Vino Rosso's the pick in Saturday’s Woodward at Saratoga
This weekend is the last weekend of the 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York and features a field of nine older horses in Saturday’s Grade 1 $750,000 Woodward Stakes over 1 1/8 miles.
The Woodward is scheduled as Race 11 (6 p.m. ET) on the 12-race card, which also features the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress in Race 3, the Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac in Race 6 and the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls in Race 10.
#3, Vino Rosso, 7-2, John Velazquez
Not only does the Travers jockey winner saddle up (oh by the way a four-time winner of the Woodward), trainer Todd Pletcher trained three past Woodward winners in Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010), and most recently, Liam's Map (2015).
Vino Rosso won the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May and had a recent third-place showing behind McKinzie in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Aug. 3.
I personally thought Vino Rosso was going to take the Whitney, but maybe he needed another race under his belt over the track.
Pletcher, who also will have Wooderson and Bal Harbour in the race as well, has loved Vino Rosso’s works entering the race, including a five-furlong bullet in 58.60 over the main track last Friday a.m., the fastest of 22 recorded works at that distance.
Everything is pointing in the right direction for Vino Rosso. Let’s hope we drink up at the end of the race. The Pick
#9 Tom’s d’Etat, 4-1, Irad Ortiz, Jr.
The lightly-raced 6-year-old son of Smart Strike, Tom’s d’Etat has won all three of his starts at Saratoga, but is still looking for his first graded stakes win. His wins at The Spa include a maiden victory at third asking in August 2016, a nine-length victory against winners the following year where he garnered a career best 106 Beyer Speed Figure and defeated stakes winners Far From Over and Bodhisattva.
In his most recent start, he won the Alydar on August 2 at Saratoga. Prior to the Alydar, he placed at Churchill Downs in the Grade 2 Alysheba and finished third in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., a two-time Saratoga leading rider, is aboard and (if you can believe it) is still looking for his first Woodward win.
Tom’s d’Etat is pointing in the right direction and after those three starts at Saratoga, it’s a second home for him. You would have thought Ortiz already notched this stakes race under his belt and the fact that the horse has come up short a few time in stakes races worries me. I think this trend will continue. A contender but not the top spot.
#7 Yoshida (JPN), 5-2, Joel Rosario
The defending champion returns as he looks to become the first horse to score back-to-back wins since Lido Palace (2001, 2002).
The 5-year-old Japanese-bred son of Heart's Cry, out of graded stakes winner Hilda's Passion, was second in the Grade 1 Whitney last time out and has the highest lifetime earnings in the field with $2,370,770. The well-rounded Yoshida owns Grade 1 triumphs on both dirt and turf. Three starts prior to winning last year's Woodward, he won his 4-year-old debut in the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.
From the above information, Yoshida is primed and ready, has Rosario aboard and has won against Grade 1 competition in the past, but can he duplicate the feat, something that no horse has done in this race 17 years running. I think the trend continues.
#1, Mr. Buff, 8-1, Jose Lezcano
The New York-bred, a four-time stakes winner, is seeking his first graded stakes win when leaving from the rail.
Last time out took the Evan Shipman on Aug. 7 over the Spa main track in convincing fashion. He also captured the Jazil, where he posted a 102 Beyer, against open company at Aqueduct back on Jan. 26.
His trainer, John Kimmel, won this race in 2006 with Premium Tap and this year has a premium pilot in Jose Lezcano. I like the long-shot chances to do some damage here. Will not win, but will make it interesting.
The choices: 3-9-7-1.
By Lou Monaco
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