Kentucky Derby 2017 Live: Irish War Cry wins Wood Memorial, earns Kentucky Derby berth

By | April 12, 2017

Irish War Cry won the $750,000 Wood Memorial by four Kentucky Derby 2017 Live lengths at Aqueduct in New York, bouncing back from a poor performance in his previous start.

Ridden by Rajiv Maragh, Irish War Cry ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.91 on Saturday, earning 100 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard for the victory. The 3-year-old colt paid $9 to win for trainer Graham Motion.

143nd Kentucky Derby

Walk from the barn: 6:15 p.m.
Post time: 6:34 p.m. ET
TV: NBC beginning at 4 p.m.
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra

Irish War Cry faded to seventh in the Fountain of Youth after dominating the Holy Bull.

Battalion Runner, co-favorite at 2-1 with Cloud Computing, earned 40 points. Cloud Computing earned 20 points, while 21-1 shot True Timber finished fourth and collected 10 points in the system used to determine the 20-horse starting field for next month’s Kentucky Derby.

The day’s other major preps, the Blue Grass and Santa Anita Derby, were to be run later in the day.

Kentucky Derby 2017 Live

With a very strong performance in the Wood Memorial, Irish War Cry rebounded from his disappointing seventh place finish in the Fountain of Youth to reclaim his spot as one of the top 2017 Kentucky Derby contenders.

As the days rapidly pass and the 2017 Kentucky Derby prep races near completion, the recent winning streak of west coast horses in the Run for the Roses appears to be in jeopardy. There is clearly no Nyquist, American Pharoah, or California Chrome ready to dominate this year at Churchill Downs. Instead, the top contenders are based to the east of the Mississippi and many of them are part of the New York Contenders List.

The New York Contenders List, which has included well over 30 horses, has been whittled down to just twelve horses. Heading into the final weekend of Derby preps, which includes the Arkansas Derby and the wild card Lexington Stakes, it is still difficult to pinpoint the favorite on the first Saturday in May, but clearly it will not be a horse from the west.

Here is the final list of 12 Contenders [they all have a New York connection of some kind] with a quick look ahead to the Kentucky Derby 2017 Live Stream . All of the usual career data for each horse follows this Top 12 analysis.

Final Top 12

1) Irish War Cry’s return to top form in the Wood Memorial was both both impressive and pleasing. It was great to see jockey Rajiv Maragh complete his comeback with the Wood victory and for him to land on a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender. It is important to remember that in the past five years the winner of the Derby was victorious in one of the 100-point prep races and that now includes Irish War Cry. The New Jersey-bred has two 101 BSFs to his credit, which is a very big point on his Derby resume. He is a son of Curlin, who he is trained by Graham Motion, the winner of the 2011 Run for the Roses with Animal Kingdom.

2) Always Dreaming is one of many Todd Pletcher trainees on this list. He picked up a very big 100-point victory in the Florida Derby, a race in which he defeated Gunnevera. He stalked the pace, took the lead, and drew off with authority to earn a 97 BSF and the past three Derby winners have had stalking trips. His sire Bodemeister just missed taking the 2012 Derby field wire to wire. He is a horse that should improve off of that Florida Derby win.

3) Gunnevera is the most experienced horse on this list with nine career starts. Since he won the Saratoga Special as a juvenile he has been on a win-loss-win-loss pattern, so that bodes well for this son of Dialed In coming out of his third place finish in the Florida Derby. The ten-furlong distance of the Derby will be a big question mark for most of the field, but not for Gunnevera. He will be running at the end when most of the field will be fading, but he does he have the turn of foot to win the race? He is a must use in the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta.

4) Malagacy is another lightly raced Derby contender for Todd Pletcher. He sold at auction three times, as a weanling, yearling, and a two-year-old drawing a top price of $190,000. This son of Shackleford has a perfect record in three career starts with the most recent coming in the Rebel at Oaklawn Park. He did not make his first start until Jan. 4, 2017. Malagacy stepped up from two rousting sprint victories to win his spot in the Run for the Roses. Pletcher is bringing him right back to Oaklawn to try and win the grade one Arkansas Derby. It will be interesting to see how this speedy colt handles the nine.

5) J Boys Echo qualified for the Derby with his big win in the Gotham in March. In that race he rallied from seven-lengths back to win by 3 ½ lengths to earn a 102 BSF. His fourth place finish in the Blue Grass (G2) was disappointing in that he did not show any of the closing punch that he showed in the Gotham. I find the performances like that and like Gunnevera’s in the Florida Derby very hard to evaluate. Their trainers and some handicappers will say that they weren’t trained to give a 100% performance; however, it does not fill me with confidence. Like Gunnevera, J Boys Echo figures to handle the Derby distance better than many others.

6) Classic Empire is the wild card of all Kentucky Derby contenders. The early favorite for the Derby after his win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has only been able to run once this year. A hoof abscess was the explanation for his first career defeat in the Holy Bull. This Casse trainee has always been a handful on track whether racing or training. He most likely has enough points to make the race with thirty-two. Classic Empire returns to the races in the Arkansas Derby. I will be watching his performance with great interest.

7) Practical Joke has never run a bad race and in six career starts has won over a million dollars. He won his first three starts including the Hopeful (G1) and the Champagne (G1) before running third in the BC Juvenile. This year he was a very game second in the Fountain of Youth and the Blue Grass. In those two races he made a very bold early move and fought down the stretch. I would like to see this Chad Brown runner wait to make his move later in the race.

8) Tapwrit is Todd Pletcher number three on this list. As a two-year-old he beat Master Plan at Gulfstream and this year he lost to McCraken in the Sam F. Davis and then ran a big one in the Tampa Derby. However, like J Boys Echo and Gunnevera he threw in a clinker in his most recent race, a fifth place in the Blue Grass. This son of Tapit sold for $1.2 million in the Saratoga yearling sale.

9) Patch is Pletcher number four. This Union Rags colt qualified for the Derby by running second in the Louisiana Derby behind Girvin. The Louisiana Derby was only his third career start and he showed a very game closing move. That was the kind of performance that should lead to improvement in his next start. Patch is one that I will be giving serious consideration in Louisville.

10) Battalion Runner shares ownership with Always Dreaming and is also trained by Pletcher. Prior to the Wood, the son of Unbridled’s Song had not run since February and was entitled to be a bit short in the nine-furlong contest. He was a bit washy heading to the gate and clearly tired down the stretch. The 40 points earned is enough to get in the Derby field, but after the race, owner Vinny Viola was against running in Louisville. Apparently Pletcher feels that Battalion Runner should go, maybe to make sure there is a solid pace for Always Dreaming stalk.

11) Cloud Computing finished third in the Wood, but really did not threaten either of the top two. His disappointing performance was only his third start, but it makes me feel like we will not see him on the track any time soon, knowing the cautious nature of trainer Chad Brown.

12) Master Plan made a very impressive run to finish third in the UAE Derby, but is short on points and this Todd Pletcher runner is unlikely to make the field. I would fully expect the son of Twirling Candy to run in the Preakness or Belmont Stakes where he would be a horse to be respected.

The 2017 Wood Memorial took center stage Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, New York, and Irish War Cry stole the show by taking home first place and 100 crucial Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

 By virtue of the win, Irish War Cry will now head to Churchill Downs with some considerable buzz as the Wood Memorial attempts to produce its first Kentucky Derby champion since Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.

Trailing Irish War Cry was Battalion Runner, who took home second place and 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, while Cloud Computing Kentucky Derby 2017 Live captured third-place honors and nabbed 20 points following a slow start out of the gate.