The 2013 Wood Memorial is a huge turn in the Road to the Kentucky Derby. As the May 4 race draws closer, trainers and jockeys have a limited time to get their horses into the field and ready to win the first leg of the Triple Crown.
With valuable points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings on the line, the race means more than ever. Fans in Queens, N.Y. were treated to an exciting race that will have a direct impact on the lineup we see run at Churchill Downs.
Some horses stepped up to the pressures and established their status as a favorite when the season gets serious. Some faded and showed they may not have what it takes to make a serious run in the season's three biggest races.
Here's a breakdown of the best and worst performances from Saturday's race.
The Good: Verrazano
Verrazano came into the race as the odds-on favorite to win. He didn't disappoint.
The 4/5 favorite colt recorded a time of 1:50.27 on the 1 1/8 mile track and overcame a quick start from longshot Chrisandthecapper to earn the timely victory. While it's hard to keep just one race in perspective, it's Verrazano sure looks like a Kentucky Derby favorite after this performance.
With the win the colt is now tied atop the standings with Orb. The kicker? Orb and Verrazano have both been ridden by jockey John Velazquez.
Orb became a favorite to win at Churchill Downs when he came up victorious in the Florida Derby. Now Velazquez will have to choose between the two horses for the biggest race of the year.
Regardless of whether Velazquez rides Verrazano or not, he's definitely a horse to watch.
The Bad: Vyjack
Vyjack entered the race as the second-biggest favorite. While he didn't completely disappoint, he missed out on an oportunity make a big statement.
As owner David Wilkenfield told ESPN before the race, the only way that Vyjack would lose is if they ran into a faster horse:
Obviously, I go into every race with the expectation we can win and this is no exception... We're not looking at this as a prep. He worked terrifically and we're expecting him to run well. If he doesn't we'll have no excuses other than we ran into a horse faster than us.
Not only did they run into one horse that was faster, they ran in to two. Vyjack was outpaced by second-place finisher Normandy Invasion.
A third-place finish isn't a catastrophe by any means, but if Vyjack can't get the second place finish in the 10-horse field at Wood Memorial, it doesn't bode well for the horse's chances in Louisville.
The Ugly: Freedom Child
Freedom Child entered the race as a massive underdog, but there's nothing more disappointing than failing to even get started.
The colt was in an assistant starter's hands when the starting gate opened and got a late break; he was declared a nonstarter by the New York race officials (h/t NBC Sports).
He was a long shot, but this is horse racing. Upsets do happen and he was coming off of a first-place finish at Gulfstream Park. It simply wasn't his day.