(WHAS11)-- I write this exactly a month before the Kentucky Derby and so a lot is on the line in the next four Derby preps including the venerable Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. It's been a tough winter in Gotham and so the 12 race card on Saturday will be all dirt. The turf is just not ready.
But the outer track is ready to go and the Wood has been turning out Derby contenders since the 1920's. But you have to go back to 2000, and Fusaichi Pegasus, to find a horse that won both in New York and Louisville.
This year, it's the New York invitational, Withers and Gotham winner Samraat, will be re-united with Uncle Sigh, who was second in both races. Both are New York bred 3 year olds. Noble Moon, who won the Jerome at Aqueduct in January is also back after a long layoff.
Those three would be a competitive race, but their connections must be wondering, who invited the rest of these guys. The rest, includes the probable morning line favorite, Social Inclusion. This is the buzz horse of the week because he won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park by 10 lengths.
That day, he beat Remsen winner Honor Code and got a Beyer figure of 111. That is not a misprint...111. Social Inclusion has never been pressed on the pace but he is freakishly fast.
He does come with a couple of cautions. He is lightly raced, just a maiden and allowance winner. And he is a Pioneer of the Nile. Remember last week's clunker by Cairo Prince.
And there's more. John Sadler ships in Kristo and his Distorted Humor pedigree from the west coast. Kristo was second in the Sham and third in the San Felipe. If he realizes his potential, a come from behind victory is possible.
Kid Cruz gets the inside post and recently won the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel. The Kid's 98 Bris speed figure fits, unless you consider Social Inclusion.
There's always a Todd Pletcher horse in Derby preps, and he chooses Harpoon, who was a bad fifth in the Gothan but had a second place in the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay. Harpoon gets a big change in jockey to John Velazquez.
You can never count out Bill Mott but his maiden winner Los Borrachos would have to make a huge jump in class. And Eddie Kenneally's Schivarelli faces the same leap after winning an Aqueduct allowance race.
As you watch the gate on Saturday, the big players will be coming from the outside. The undefeated Samraat will be guided by Jose Ortiz from the eight hole. Uncle Sigh and Corey Nakatani can stalk from the 10th post position.
And what will the speedy Social Inclusion do with post position eleven? Luis Contreras rides and this combination has never trailed a horse in two races. And this is a make or break race for Social Inclusion. He needs points to make the Derby.
It will be a very good betting race in New York. At least six horses have a shot at winning, not to mention the longshots.
I think I'm sticking with Samraat to win the Wood and Candy Boy in the Santa Anita Derby.