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Apr 04, 2008

War Pass heads Wood Memorial field


Ozone Park, NY (Sports Network) - A very competitive field of 10 three-year- olds has been entered for Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Highlighting the entries for the 1 1/8 mile race is 2007 champion juvenile War Pass.

War Pass, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, will try to get back atop the contenders list for the Kentucky Derby. He suffered his first loss last month in the Tampa Bay Derby with a last place finish behind six rivals.

"Over the past three weeks there's been a lot of second guessing," said owner Robert LaPenta, "There's been a lot of conversation, a lot of conjecture. There's no factual evidence, so I preface it all by saying this is conjecture and theory. I think it all started with the fact that he broke poorly out of the gate. And the reason for that is subject to conjecture. You know, was there some type of plan to get him out of the gate slow, horses rearing up, horses that normally wouldn't have acted that way. He got out of the gate, and I think we've all seen that the two and the four basically sandwiched him in, put him in a position that he normally wasn't accustomed to."

Trained by Nick Zito, War Pass will be ridden by his regular jockey Cornelio Velasquez and break from post five.

With five wins in six starts the colt has earned more than $1.4 million and is guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby based on graded stakes earnings.

"After the Breeders' Cup, Nick and I plotted a road to the Kentucky Derby, get a nice mile race into him, then the Tampa Bay Derby and finally the Wood," LaPenta said. "The Tampa Bay Derby didn't work out. He didn't get the workout he needed and we had hoped for. He only ran about five furlongs. In the Wood we want to see him back in form, running well, that's more important than winning at this point. We are looking for a reconfirmation of his form, mentally and physically. Seeing War Pass running with authority in the stretch is really what we're looking for. But if War Pass is at the top of his form, he should win this race."

Zito has also entered Anak Nakal, another thoroughbred attempting to rebound from poor performances. The Four Roses owned colt was eighth in the Fountain of Youth and seventh in the Rebel Stakes.

Anak Nakal has drawn the far outside post and will have Alan Garcia in the saddle. The winner of last November's Kentucky Jockey Club Juvenile at Churchill Downs has won two of five starts for $220,916.

Trainer Bill Mott has also entered two horses, Court Vision and Inner Light, both co-owned by IEAH Stable and WinStar Farm. The two colts will comprise one betting interest with Court Vision starting from post three and Inner Light from post nine.

Court Vision will once again be ridden by champion jockey Garrett Gomez who guided the three-year-old to a third place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in February at Gulfstream Park.

"It was his first race back and he ran well, considering he was on a speed- favoring racetrack," Mott said. "He was pretty far back, and he wasn't going to make up any kind of ground on that track. Still, he was the only one running at the end and he has been doing very well ever since."

Last year Court Vision won the Iroquois and Remsen Stakes, and has career earnings of $292,542.

Inner Light will have the services of rider C.C. Lopez for the Wood. The chestnut colt has won two of seven lifetime starts for $56,220. He is coming off a win in a Gulfstream Park allowance race on March 7.

"We've kind of looked at the Wood for awhile for Inner Light," Mott noted, "and we decided to give him a chance to play the game. He's always been overanxious, but he seemed to settle much better in his last race. Will he handle two turns? We don't know for sure, but he seems he is heading in the right direction."

Here is the complete field in post position order for the 84th Wood Memorial: Texas Wildcatter, Eibar Coa; Spurrier, Stewart Elliott; Court Vision, Garrett Gomez; First Commandment, Mike Luzzi; War Pass, Cornelio Velasquez; Roman Emperor, Jeremy Rose; Giant Moon, Jorge Chavez; Tale of Ekati, Edgar Prado; Inner Light, C.C. Lopez and Anak Nakal, Alan Garcia.

All starters will carry 123 pounds.

The Wood Memorial has a post-time scheduled for 5:15 p.m. (et) and will televised by NBC.

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