Social Inclusion looked to be running away with the 2014 Wood Memorial heading down the final stretch before Wicked Strong barreled down the outside in the closing moments and took the race in thrilling fashion Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York.
The New York Racing Association capped up Wicked Strong's victory:
Wicked Strong came around the opening turn in seventh place, but hung around in the middle of the pack and was close enough to make his push at the end. Social Inclusion had pulled away by that point with Samraat right behind, but both lost their steam with a few dozen lengths to go and Wicked Strong was closing in fast.
In no time, Wicked Strong was a runaway winner with Samraat and Social Inclusion in a photo finish for third place—which Samraat came out on top of.
Here's a look at the final leaderboard for Saturday's exciting, down-to-the-wire race:
|2014 Wood Memorial Results|
|1||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||James A. Jerkens||2|
|2||Samraat||Jose L. Ortiz||Richard A. Violette Jr.||8|
|3||Social Inclusion||Luis Contreras||Manuel J. Azpurua||11|
|4||Schivarelli||Javier Castellano||Eddie Kenneally||7|
|5||Uncle Sigh||Corey Nakatani||Gary Contessa||10|
|6||Noble Moon||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Leah Gyarmati||3|
|7||Kristo||Martin Garcia||John W. Sadler||6|
|8||Effinex||Rosario Montanez||David J. Smith||9|
|9||Harpoon||John R. Velasquez||Todd Pletcher||4|
|10||Los Borrachos||Cornelio H. Velasquez||William Mott||5|
With the victory, Wicked Strong added 100 points to his Kentucky Derby point total. Here's how the Kentucky Derby points standings look for the top finishers:
The field of 10 thoroughbreds that flocked upon Queens, New York for the 90th Wood Memorial made for one exciting race.
The 2-to-1 pre-race favorite Social Inclusion looked destined to take it for most of the race, and when he came around the final turn with a two-and-a-half length lead, it looked to be all but over. He had held off furious attempts from Samraat and Schivarelli and looked to have taken everyone's best punch.
Everyone's but Wicked Strong.
Wicked Strong saved his best for last and turned it on during the final stretch. That, compounded with Social Inclusion sputtering off, was enough to catapult Wicked Strong into the lead. Shortly after, he was taking the win and Social Inclusion was left in third.
With the third-place finish, Churchill Downs PR summed up how it might complicate Social Inclusion's Kentucky Derby chances:
Social Inclusion entered as the big money favorite and certainly lost a lot of money for folks with his third-place finish. But on the other hand, Wicked Strong made for a handsome payout for anyone who took him as one of the underdogs in the 10-horse field.
Here's a look at the overall payout after Wicked Strong's victory:
|2014 Wood Memorial Payouts|
Schivarelli was one standout thoroughbred that didn't crack the top three. The three-year-old out of Florida was pushing Social Inclusion for the lead for much of the 1 1/8 miles. He finished in fourth place, but very well could have won.
The horse racing action in Aqueduct wasn't done there, as the Santa Anita Derby closely followed the Wood Memorial and more Kentucky Derby implications were yet to unfold.
But after Wicked Strong's thrilling victory and Social Inclusion's late blunder, the 90th Wood Memorial offered plenty of storylines heading into the rest of the season.