Saturday, April 07, 2012
Gemologist all heart in Wood Memorial (G1)
WinStar Farms' Gemologist ran his undefeated streak to a perfect five-for-five with stirring stretch run to capture the Wood Memorial (G1), sending the son of Tiznow to Louisville as one of the favorites for the May 5 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Gemologist showed his class and courage during a hard-fought stretch duel with Alpha. Sitting in third for the first six furlongs, Gemologist went after the lead coming into the final quarter mile. Getting clear by about a length and a half with a furlong to go, Alpha put in a run in the late stages, but Gemologist dug in gamely and held sway by a neck at the finish. He completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.96 on a fast track.
“That’s a great win, he’s a great horse,” said WinStar president and CEO Elliott Walden. “This stamps him as a Derby prospect, which we’re excited about. We needed the earnings [the Wood winner's share is $600,000] today.”
“I had a great trip,” said winning rider Javier Castellano. “Turning for home, he was looking around at horses. When I asked him, he took off again. I like that. I was concerned (when I saw Alpha closing) because my horse was still looking around at the crowd. When he saw the horse coming, he took off again.”
Gemologist has now amassed $784,855 in his career. The bay colt has already proven his affinity for his Churchill Downs surface, winning an allowance race and the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club S. during the 2011 fall meet.
“So far, it would be hard to be unhappy with anything he’s done so far his whole career,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the 2010 Derby with WinStar’s Super Saver. “It was great to see. It looked like he had a little something left after the wire, so I think from a conditioning standpoint, with a good mile race and a good 1 1/8-mile race under our belt, hopefully we can have a good month of training leading up to (the Derby)."