The Wood Memorial was supposed to clear up the Kentucky Derby picture, but now it’s become even more clouded.
Wicked Strong came from off the pace to score a 9-1 upset in Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial, winning by three lengths over the Withers Stakes and Gotham Stakes winner Samraat and 3-2 post-time favorite Social Inclusion.
Wicked Strong, under jockey Rajiv Maragh, was a ground-saving seventh throughout most of the race while Schivarelli carved out sensible fractions of 23.79, 47.47 and 1:11.16 over Social Inclusion, who would take the lead midway around the final turn. Samraat came under urging from his rider Jose Ortiz at that point but was three lengths behind. Wicked Strong took to the outside and uncorked a rally in the center of the track, passing Social Inclusion and Samraat inside the final furlong.
With the win Wicked Strong earned 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby, virtually assuring himself of a spot in the starting gate on May 3. Samraat nosed out Social Inclusion for second, which was important because Samraat got the 40 Derby points for second while Social Inclusion only got 20 points for finishing third. His Kentucky Derby eligibility is uncertain now.
Finishing fourth and earning 10 Derby points was Schivarelli, who will most likely not have enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Uncle Sigh, who had been close to winning his last two starts, stumbled at the break and found himself much further off the lead than usual. He could only manage a fifth place finish.