Wood Memorial is a key race for Gemologist


Associated Press

NEW YORK

Unbeaten but untested, Gemologist is ready for his Kentucky Derby audition.

The 3-year-old colt is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in a field of eight for Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial, a final prep before the Derby in four weeks.

Gemologist has yet to compete against some of the top Derby hopefuls, and his only start this year was a seven-length victory in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

Now is the time to step up. Trainer Todd Pletcher is looking for a big effort from Gemologist because the colt needs to earn enough money to qualify for the Derby if more than the maximum of 20 horses are entered.

“The situation we’re in is there’s not a lot of margin for error [in the Wood],” Pletcher said. “He could finish third and that’s going to put him on the bubble of graded earnings. It’s important for him to run first or second and give us a good effort.”

The winner’s share is worth $600,000. Second place is worth $200,000.

Entering a weekend packed with Derby preps, Gemologist ranks 30th on the Derby list of graded stakes earnings with $103,855.

Pletcher, as usual, has a large contingent of 3-year-olds still on the Derby trail. On Saturday, he’ll send out Our Entourage in the Illinois Derby, and may run Stat in the Arkansas Derby on April 14. He also says El Padrino, who finished fourth in last week’s Florida Derby, is probably headed to the Derby.

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