Eskendereya romps in Wood

NEW YORK (AP) - Eskendereya blew away a strong field to win the
$750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on Saturday, making a strong
case for being the favorite in the Kentucky Derby in four weeks.
On the turn for home, Eskendereya (es-ken-DRAY-uh) stormed into
the lead and pulled away with authority for a 9¾-length victory
over Jackson Bend.
The margin of victory in the 1 1-8-mile Wood topped
Eskendereya's 8½-length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb.
20 in his previous start.
The 3-year-old colt trained by Todd Pletcher went off as the 1-2
favorite in the six-horse field. Pletcher is 0 for 24 in the
Kentucky Derby but could have as many as eight horses in the field
this time.
"The horse is amazing," Pletcher said with a huge smile. "The
further he goes the stronger he gets. The horse has natural
The Derby on May 1 is 1¼ miles and appears to be a perfect fit
for Eskendereya, a chestnut son of Giant's Causeway.
Owned by Ahmed Zayat, Eskendereya earned $450,000 to boost his
graded stakes earnings to $600,000, more than enough to qualify for
the Derby that has a 20-horse limit.
Jackson Bend, trained by two-time Derby winner Nick Zito, earned
$150,000 for second to move to $230,000, likely enough to make the
Derby field.
Eskendereya, ridden by John Velazquez, raced comfortably in
third behind Most Happy Fella and Jackson Bend. By the time the
field hit the final turn, Eskendereya was taking control as
Velazquez eased the colt to the outside. From there, he was home
The winning time was 1:49.97.
Awesome Act took third, followed by Schoolyard Dreams, Carnivore
and Most Happy Fella.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)