(Bourbonic wins the G2 Wood Memorial / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)
From the NYRA Media Team:
Trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled the most Grade 1 Kentucky Derby starters in history. With almost a month until the 2021 “Run for the Roses” on May 1, the veteran conditioner could add to that total thanks to a pair of upset efforts on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack, with 72-1 longshot Bourbonic making a furious rally from the outside to edge 15-1 stablemate Dynamic One by a head in a thrilling finish to the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino.
The 96th running of the Wood Memorial, offering 100-40-20-10 Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers, was not contested in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Bourbonic, making his first stakes appearance in his sixth start, ensured the 729-day gap between runnings was memorable, rallying from last-of-nine at the top of the stretch before jockey Kendrick Carmouche tipped him out and saw his charge pick off rivals one-by-one.
Calumet Farm’s Bourbonic surged through the wire from the middle of the fast main track, besting Dynamic One in the final jumps to complete the 1 1/8-mile course in 1:54.49 and earn the triple-digit Derby points for the Kentucky homebred.
It marked the sixth Wood Memorial victory for Pletcher, who previously won with Eskendereya , Gemologist , Verrazano , Outwork  and Vino Rosso . Pletcher’s 55 Derby starters are a record that could soon be bolstered.
“We always felt this horse would handle added distance,” said Pletcher, who trails only Hall of Famer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons’ record eight Wood Memorial wins for the most all time. “He was able to get a perfect trip and sit back and make one late run. He was able to get there just in time. It was a big effort.
“To have any chance, I think the only way he could be successful was to stay back and make one late run,” he added. “He doesn’t have any early speed.”
The Wood Memorial – the signature race for the 126-year-old racetrack – saw a fellow longshot, 70-1 Market Maven, break sharp from the outside post and go to the lead around the near turn, going the opening quarter-mile in 24.88 seconds and the half in 50.18. Weyburn, a nose winner of the Grade 3 Gotham last out, continued to pressure the pacesetter in second position, with three-quarters going in 1:14.98.
Out of the turn, Dynamic One worked to gain the edge to the outside of Weyburn at the top of the stretch, with Bourbonic still bringing up the rear.
But Carmouche said he knew his horse still had plenty left in reserve, and Bourbonic quickly erased the deficit when angled to the outside, capitalizing on the daylight under heavy encouragement by Carmouche to get up at the right time, winning for the third time in his last four starts.
“Todd asked me what I was going to do and I told him I wouldn’t move,” Carmouche said. “I was just going to sit, sit, sit, sit and hopefully get out the last quarter of a mile. I knew he would go on from there. My horse was in a good stride. Each pole I was picking them up one by one without even asking.”
The victory was Carmouche’s first Wood Memorial win and came one week after the Vinton, Louisiana native completed a winter meet campaign in which he finished second in the standings. Carmouche, who has more than 3,300 wins in his career, has never had a Derby mount.
Carmouche also had another milestone riding for Calumet Farm, building on his win on True Timber in the Cigar Mile in December that marked the 37-year-old’s first career Grade 1 win, capping his fall meet that saw him secure his first career NYRA riding title.
“I’m thrilled for Calumet Farm. I won my first Grade 1 with True Timber in the Cigar Mile for them and now I won the Wood for them,” Carmouche said. “These past six months of my career have just been what you dream of.”
Bourbonic, who could have been claimed for $50,000 out of a maiden race on December 6 at Aqueduct, returned $146.50 on a $2 win wager. The victory upped his career earnings to $465,800.
The son of Bernardini improved to 3-1-0 in six starts and three wins in four starts since going back to dirt after running 11th in a turf start on November 14 at Aqueduct.
“Sometimes the worst thing you can have is a hot hand in January and February,” Pletcher said. “We were hoping something would come together and we always thought he had potential to step up. It was good to see him do it.”
Dynamic One, ridden by Jose Ortiz, was also making his stakes bow for Pletcher and garnered the 40 qualifying points by topping Crowded Trade by 1 1/4 lengths for runner-up honors.
Owned by Repole Stable, Phipps Stable and St. Elias Stable, Dynamic One broke his maiden at fourth asking in his previous start going the Wood Memorial distance on March 7 at the Big A. The Union Rags colt, a $725,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, handled the step up in class.
“The one thing we were concerned about is if he made the lead he might idle a little bit,” Pletcher said. “Jose said he tried to time it as well as he could and he was hoping the leader would carry him to the wire more than he did. It was another step forward for him.”
Crowded Trade, trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Eric Cancel, picked up 20 points by finishing 1 3/4 lengths clear of Weyburn for third. Weyburn, who earned 50 points for his Gotham win, brought his total to 60.
“It looked for a moment like he had dead aim to maybe even win the race, but he just hung a little bit down the lane and ran a little bit evenly,” Brown said. “I was really proud of his effort. I thought he ran his race despite missing the break a bit and falling a little bit too far back. Watching his race, I think you’d have to be concerned how far he’ll run. He had dead aim and didn’t really close any ground from the eighth pole home.”
The New York-bred Brooklyn Strong finished fifth, with Prevalence, the favorite Risk Taking, Market Maven and Candy Man Rocket completing the order of finish.
Sunday will not feature racing at Aqueduct because of the Easter holiday. The 11-day Big A spring meet, which runs through April 18, will resume on Thursday with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.