The Wood Memorial Stakes is one of the premier prep races for the Kentucky Derby. As part of the Kentucky Derby points system, the Wood Memorial is designated as a top-tier prep race and a victory all but ensures a spot in the starting gate in the first Saturday in May. The race is held every April at Aqueduct and the Grade 1 event is run over a mile and an eighth with a purse of $1 million.
The Wood Memorial was inaugurated in 1925 and has been an integral part of the road to the Kentucky Derby ever since – eleven winners of the Wood Memorial have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby.
Wood Memorial Stakes Betting Odds
Betting on the Wood Memorial is simple and secure through one of these recommended racebooks even if you cannot make it to Aqueduct Racetrack in New York to see the race in person.
Wood Memorial Stakes Racing Tips
The Wood Memorial has a rich history and has been a showcase of some of the greatest achievements and finest horse racing moments in history. No jockey has won the race more times than Eddie Arcaro, who holds the record with nine victories. Trainer Jim Fitzsimmons has saddled seven winners and is the clear-cut leader in that category.
The stakes record is held by the brilliant Bellamy Road who completed the mile and an eighth in 1:47.16 and romped by 17 ½ lengths. The colt went on to finish seventh in the Kentucky Derby and was retired after a runner-up effort in the Travers Stakes.
Four horses have gone on to win the Triple Crown after winning the Wood Memorial – Gallant Fox (1930), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Seattle Slew (1977). Secretariat suffered a rare defeat in the 1973 edition of the Wood Memorial but went on to win the Kentucky Derby and sweep the Triple Crown.
The 2003 edition of the Wood Memorial wound up being a preview of a rivalry to come in the Triple Crown. The regally-bred Empire Maker got the best of the New York-bred underdog Funny Cide. In the Run for the Roses, Funny Cide turned the tables and won the Kentucky Derby but Empire Maker got the last laugh in the Belmont Stakes to deny the Triple Crown.
Wood Memorial Stakes Results
In the 2016 renewal of the Wood Memorial, a wide-open field of eight colts and geldings assembled to try to earn a ticket to the Kentucky Derby. Off of a victory in the Gotham Stakes, Shagaf went to post as the slight favorite.
Outwork, the second choice at odds of 5-2, engaged on the front-end early with pacesetter Matt King Coal. Those two set moderate early fractions before Outwork got the better of that rival at the top of the stretch. He kicked clear by 1 ½ lengths and had enough left to hold off a late rally from 81-1 longshot Trojan Nation.
The homebred son of Uncle Mo carried the colors of Repole Stable for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez. He went on to finish fourteenth in the Kentucky Derby.