Normally, winning an important Kentucky Derby prep race in April is a great springboard to success in the Run For the Roses.
But winning the Wood Memorial Stakes, as current Derby favorite Verrazano did on April 6, has jinxed more than a dozen thoroughbreds since 2000.
The Wood winner is guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby and often goes off as one of the morning line favorites. But since Fusaichi Pegasus won 13 years ago, no Wood winner has won.
And in recent years, Wood winners have been cursed with injuries and other problems. Gemologist was the second betting choice last year but faded to 16th in the Kentucky Derby.
The three Wood winners before that did not even run in the Derby. And since 2004, the best two finishes were a fourth and a seventh.
“Maybe it is a curse or just really bad luck,” said veteran handicapper Michael Dempsey of TurfnSport.com, who has covered the New York circuit for three decades and ranked Kentucky Derby contenders.
“And remember his trainer Todd Pletcher has a bit of a curse going as well, as he is just 1-for-33 in the Derby.”
With a pair of Bob Baffert runners declared out of the Derby, the rest of the field of 20 has taken shape with Verrazano at the top. The full field will be announced Tuesday, with the post draw thereafter.
The list of Wood memorial winners and their eventual Derby placing are listed below.
|2000||Fusaichi Pegasus||Kent Desormeaux||01:47.8||1|
|2003||Empire Maker||Jerry Bailey||01:48.6||2|
|2004||Tapit||Ramon A. Dominguez||01:49.6||9|
|2005||Bellamy Road||Javier Castellano||01:47.2||7|
|2006||Bob and John||Garrett Gomez||01:51.5||17|
|2007||Nobiz Like Shobiz||Cornelio Velasquez||01:49.5||10|
|2008||Tale of Ekati||Edgar Prado||01:52.4||4|
|2009||I Want Revenge||Joseph Talamo||01:49.5||DNR|
|2011||Toby's Corner||Eddie Castro||01:49.9||DNR|