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Verrazano faces Vyjack in Wood Memorial

Preview: USA, Saturday 11.28pm BST (live on ATR)

Aqueduct: Wood Memorial (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo

KENTUCKY DERBY favourite Verrazano (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez) faces the acid test of his Classic credentials on Saturday when he meets fellow unbeaten three-year-old Vyjack in the Wood Memorial.

Verrazano has looked a potential superstar in his three runs to date, winning by a cumulative 27 lengths and taking the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby by three lengths on his most recent start.

As short as 6-1 for the Kentucky Derby with British bookmakers, he is bidding to become the first horse since Apollo in 1892 to win the roses without having raced as a two-year-old, having made his debut at Gulfstream on January 1.

The son of More Than Ready is drawn eight of ten for the $1 million Wood, where chief market rival is sure to be Gotham Stakes victor Vyjack (Rudy Rodriguez/Joel Rosario).

Although both Verrazano and Vyjack have both probably accrued enough points to have already earned a Kentucky start via the new qualification system, the remainder of the field will need to grab first or second to get a look-in.

Normandy Invasion, Elnaawi and Mr Palmer are among those likely to try to close from off the pace, while Freedom Child adds Lasix after wiring his field at Gulfstream last month.

Ladbrokes: 5-6 Verrazano, 7-2 Vyjack, 7 Normandy Invasion, 8 Mr Palmer, 14 Elnaawi, 25 Always In A Tiz, 33 Go Get The Basil, Freedom Child, 50 Chrisandthecapper, 66 Quinzieme Monarque

Also on Saturday

Keeneland: Ashland Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, AW, 3yo fillies (10.13pm BST, live on ATR)

A maximum 14-runner field in this $500,000 Polytrack trial for the Kentucky Oaks, where Canadian-based trainer Mark Casse holds a strong hand via Spring In The Air (Patrick Husbands) and Spring Venture (Miguel Mena).

The former is the only Grade 1 winner in the field by virtue of her course-and-distance success last autumn in the Darley Alcibiades - but she was beaten by her stablemate when the pair met last month in Florida.

Dubai World Cup-winning trainer Graham Motion is also doubly represented with Grade 3 winner Kitten's Point (Edgar Prado) and former Italian-trained Tuttipaesi (Alan Garcia).

Ladbrokes: 5 Tuttipaesi, Kitten's Point, 6 Spring Venture, Spring In The Air, 8 Private Ensign, Emollient, 10 Wave Theory, 12 Nipissing, 16 Kitten's Dumplings, Magical Moon, 25 Broken Spell, 33 Redressthebalance, 40 Every Way, 66 Allanah

Aqueduct: Carter Hcap (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 3yo+ (10.49pm BST, live on ATR)

Todd Pletcher will have high hopes of another Grade 1 winner here with Discreet Dancer (Javier Castellano), who is reopposed by Swagger Jack and Fort Loudon after smashing them over a mile in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap last month.

Godolphin's silks are carried by Consortium (Kiaran McLaughlin/Eddie Castro) but the top-weight is West Coast shipper Sahara Sky (Jerry Hollendorfer/Joel Rosario), who jets in off back-to-back Grade 2 scores in California.

Ladbrokes: evens Discreet Dancer, 7-2 Sahara Sky, 7 Fort Loudon, 12 Saturday's Charm, Brigand, Swagger Jack, 20 Consortium

 
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