By J.N. Campbell

Aqueduct Picks and P6 Analysis for Saturday's Wood Memorial Card

By J.N. Campbell
An amazing card is on tap for the Wood Memorial card... see who J.N. Campbell likes as he puts together a Pick 6 ticket for you!
An amazing card is on tap for the Wood Memorial card... see who J.N. Campbell likes as he puts together a Pick 6 ticket for you!

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it is time for the annual renewal of the $750,000 Grade II Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack. Also, available from HorseRacing.net is a stellar set of contests that comprise a spectacular .20 Empire Pick 6 sequence, which has a mandatory payout. Our own turf-man, J.N. Campbell, will give all of his selections for the entire 11-race card.

He will also offer "Best Play" and "Best Value" options. These go right along with a personalized Pick 6 ticket that is both affordable and bold, all coming from the same window!

If you're interested in seeing picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Today's Horse Racing Picks

AQU Saturday: Mandatory Payout Empire 6

LEG 1: (Race 6: Dirt, 7F, Carter H., 300k, 4+)

To begin this sequence of the Pick 6, we have a small group of older males sprinting on the AQU dirt. The Carter Hcp. is an age-old staple on the card, and if you do not already, you might want to really watch how the track sets up in the earlier races. In these types of contests, it can be useful to figure out where the speed can be found. Is it down on the rail or outside? Is it favoring speed or are closers doing their thing from the back of the pack?

I really think this race comes down to 2 contenders, and I certainly think Saffie Joseph’s Mischievous Alex #4 will get the nod as a “deserving favorite.” This 4-yr-old colt is heralded, after 2 scores in a row down at Gulfstream Park. He stepped up from a OC62.5 6F go on the dirt into the Grade II GP Sprint, and won the day against a short field. Now, coming to the “Big A,” he looks to sharpen up some more, taking on only 5 others.

I have had a bit of a change in my thinking about Joseph’s charge, as the week has worn on. When I did the preview for this race, I thought he was an “A-,“ but now after looking at his PPs again, I am not so sure. Yes, he is fast and that Beyer shows it, but some of this scuttle about him stems from winning the Gotham (G3) a year ago. What if he is not as good as bettors think? I am not so sure that G3 was really that tough a race, and he was an extremely short price.

Instead, I think Kendrick Carmouche’s mount, Chateau #5 looks best, and in the Tom Fool (G3), a prep for this attempt, he was coming up roses with that frontend win. That field, when compared to the GP Sprint race that “Alex” was in, had to be a better race. Plus, it was at Aqueduct, which speaks to this son of Flat Out being a sort of “horse for the course.” Let’s “single” him for those reasons, and because he gets Carmouche who rides him for the 4th time. He is headed in the right direction (let’s hope it is a left turn!) for trainer Rob Atras, whose numbers are excellent at the local level. Nothing like a reconsideration when you are handicapping…

Selection: 5 (Single)

 

LEG 2: (Race 7: Turf, 1 1/16th, ALLW82k, F&M 3+)

Wonderful to see that green swath running like a road over at Aqueduct. It is a sure sign that warmth is on the way! The tough aspect is to discern what to do with a bunch of entrants who have been back on the farm wintering in their toasty stalls, or ones that are transitioning from the dirt back to the turf. The other options, and we have a few of them in this race, are shippers that were running say, down at Gulfstream on their turf, or are coming from Europe.

In this spot, I want to lean on a “Gulfstream Invader,” since that choice speaks to recency. Todd Pletcher’s Apurate #7 missed by a nose in an OC25k, which had a nice field of 11. I like this filly out of Summer Front, not only because of that effort, but she also knows the track from prior experience. This might seem like a class jump, and technically it is, but those races on the turf @GP are competitive, and I think she will be able to get to the finish. Kendrick Carmouche continues his hot riding, and perhaps he can translate some of those numbers over to the newly uncovered New York sod.

I would be remiss if I did not include whomever Irad Ortiz is riding. You must understand that he is an elite jockey, and when he comes to NYRA tracks, that means he invariably hooks up with trainer Chad Brown. His mount is Brown’s Flighty Lady #5, who is owned by the excellent Peter Brant. Her European record looks quite impressive, running in some Group 3 company in France at Lyon, Longchamp, and Deauville. Those efforts were all finishes in the top 3 of each of those races. The only issue is the layoff, but if Brown has her fit, then she should be the natural favorite. Trust in Irad… and Brown… and Brant… and…   

Selections: 5/7 (2 Deep)

 

LEG 3: (Race 8: Dirt, 1 1/8th, Excelsior S., 150k, 4+)

The 3rd Leg of the Pick 6 is nothing to sneeze at, and though it has a heavy M/L favorite in Mr. Buff #7, I do not know how much confidence I have in this 7-yr-old gelding. John Kimmel is an excellent trainer, and Carmouche is Carmouche, but still… his record is based on Black Type races that are decidedly not Grade 3s. Riding a 2-race win streak is tough to argue against, but I would rather back a couple of other runners like Limonite #4 and Modernist #5. The former was a smart 2nd to Mr. Buff #7 last time, and he was closing hard. The latter looks much classier, and he was never better in the split Risen Star (G2) on the Derby Trail last year. Going 3-deep sounds very reasonable considering where we are in the construction of this ticket.

Selections: 3/5/7 (3 Deep)

 

LEG 4: (Race 9: Dirt, 1 1/8th, Gazelle S., 250k, 3F)

As we head into the second half, let’s buckle down, and get this one home. Nothing appears easy this race that has Kentucky Oaks Points at stake. How many of these runners have a shot to win as they stretch out in distance… all of them. I have serious concerns that Chad Brown’s presumptive favorite, Search Results #8 can get the job done at 1/1 on the M/L. Even money in this spot better deliver the goods, is my first thought. Yes, she gets Irad Ortiz, but he is not impregnable. In the prep for this race, The Busher Invite 250k, she was resounding in her effort. That was a short field, and only a mile in distance. This spot will only be her 3rd lifetime, so there is not much form to prove she can get the 1 1/8th. For those reasons, and others, I am against her. She very well could win, but why not just hit the “All” button, seeking out the coverage “just in case.” Going against the Great Triumvirate of Irad/Brown/Klaravich with their giant red “KS” emblazoned everywhere isn’t sacrilege, it’s just security. Others that I like are a couple of turf runners, actually… trained by 2 fellows you might have heard of… Graham Motion with his filly, Mia Martina #3, and Bill Mott’s misspelled Alwayz Late #6. Both these can get the distance, and convert to dirt. Nice!

Selections: 1-8 (All)

 

LEG 5: (Race 10: Dirt, 1 1/8th, Wood Memorial S., 750k, 3)

The feature on the Wood Memorial card is just that… the Wood Memorial Stakes, which is a Grade II affair going a 1 1/8th on the Main Track at Aqueduct. This race has produced some celebrated winners, but lately few have vied to win the Kentucky Derby. Still, you never know when a runner will get hot, and head into Churchill with a full head of steam.

Whereas in the filly version of this race, I spurned the idea of a “Single” with the Klaravich Stables entry.  Now, here I am selling this one! Risk Taking #4 has all the tools that are necessary to be an accomplished Derby participant. Chad Brown has himself a very talented colt out of Medaglia d’Oro. In the Withers (G3) back in early February, he made a statement rolling down the lane in fine fashion. It was an impressive victory. Then, the connections decided to wait for this race—Wood Memorial. Nowadays, Derby particpants barely run in 3 contests in the same year they hope to compete in the “Run for the Roses.” I think Brown has this one primed for another score against a field that is short on major experience. The only other runners that might be plausible are the Jerkens Barn’s Weyburn #8, and Brown’s other stable member in here, Crowded Trade #2. I thought the Gotham (G3), in which both these horses were 1-2, looked a little weak to my eye. Maybe that is why Weyburn #8 won at 47/1, besting Crowed Trade #2…

My sense is that Risk Taking #4 is the major play, especially with Irad Ortiz jumping aboard. You might think that Danny Velazquez’s Brooklyn Strong #1, a gelding who has battled an injury, might be an option… Or Candy Man Rocket #7, who is classy, but failed miserably in the Tampa Bay Derby for Bill Mott... Or Brendan Walsh’s Prevalence #6, who is the young Gulfstream upstart… But, none of those are colts I would choose because they all have holes in their capability.

Risk Taking #4 is the name of the game… isn’t it?  

Selections: 4 (Single)

 

LEG 6: (Race 11: Turf, 1 1/16th, MClm43k, 3+ NYbreds)

The finale after all this “Stakes action” is a lowly MC event that caps the day! Nothing like a tough turf race like this one for routers. Spotting the 2 favorites makes sense, given that we can afford to go 4-deep here.

I want to use Voliero #7 who is 9/5 on the M/L. Jimmy Bond has this 4-yr-old gelding looking to make a move off the bench after a successful 2020 on all the NYRA tracks. This is a much easier level than the MSW races he was contesting back then. Jockey T-Mac does not get to ride any grass runners over the winter, but he is a veteran and a quick study.

The other logical add here is Irad Ortiz’s mount, Michael’s Bad Boy #8 from the stable of Saffie Joseph. Unlike NYRA trainers who have to wait from November to April, this conditioner has kept razor sharp down in Florida running at Gulfstream and Tampa. He has a major edge…

I have 2 other spots available on my ticket, and I want to use a couple of first-time starters because you never know if favorites like these are going to fire. Moon’s Edge #11 at 15/1 from Tom Morley’s outfit has a nice dam side turfer in his background. Getting Pablo Morales looks inviting too. The other one is long shot Wicked Grinch #5. Out of Tonalist and Akron Gold, John McAllen might have a sneaky good gelding. He will be a huge price at post time with the inexperienced Heman Harkie riding.  

Selections: 5/7/8/11 (4 Deep)

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.20 Empire P6 TICKET COST: $76.80

Enjoy some action from “The Big A!” The tradition of the Wood Memorial continues…

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