‘TDN Rising Star’ Irish War Cry (Curlin) bounced back in a big way in Saturday’s GII Wood Memorial S. at the Big A to punch his ticket to the GI Kentucky Derby in style. It was 3 1/2 lengths back to fellow ‘Rising Star’ and 2-1 favorite Battalion Runner (Unbridled’s Song) in second. “It’s extremely gratifying to get this horse back on track,” winning trainer Graham Motion commented. “That was huge. I don’t remember having a situation like this, when I felt so much was on the line. I thought he won pretty comfortably and it doesn’t seem like distance [1 1/4 miles] of the [GI Kentucky] Derby will be an issue.”
Let go as the third choice at 7-2 to atone for a puzzling seventh-place effort when last seen in the GII Xpressbet Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream Mar. 4, the Isabelle deTomaso New Jersey homebred was given a tactically perfect ride by the comebacking Rajiv Maragh after breaking well from his wide draw here.
Battalion Runner, a winner of two straight at Gulfstream, including an optional claimer in his two-turn debut Feb. 3, held a narrow advantage through opening splits of :23.50 and :47.34 with Irish War Cry in hot pursuit to his outside.
Irish War Cry reached even terms on the far turn, began to let it out a notch as they straightened for home and strode clear late to report home as a much-the-best winner.
It was the second graded win on the card for horses bred in the Garden State, joining upset GI Carter H. hero Green Gratto.
“We are unbelievably thrilled,” Hope Jones, niece of Mrs. de Tomaso, and granddaughter of Mr. Haskell said. “This is the first time I’ve seen this horse race in person and Irish War Cry did not disappoint at all. We are so excited. I live in Queens and this is my first time at Aqueduct and the horse wins the Wood. It’s amazingly exciting. I always went to Monmouth Park [because of her family].”
Irish War Cry, a winner of his first three starts, headed by a lights-out victory of Gulfstream’s GII Lambholm South Holy Bull S. Feb. 4, posted two moves since the Fountain of Youth, a five-furlong breeze in 1:01 (14/34) at Palm Meadows Mar. 25 and a six-furlong spin in 1:13 2/5 (1/3) at Fair Hill Apr. 2. He was fitted with a Figure 8 bridle for the first time in the Wood.
“I think it’s so good that Rajiv came to the barn and has been on him the last few mornings to see how he is,” Motion said. “He’s not a difficult horse. He’s not a rank horse; he’s a very classy horse. We both thought it was a good idea for Rajiv to get on him in the mornings.”
Motion added, “I think the equipment change probably helped. It gives you a little more control. But he had the perfect trip today. I don’t know what happened last time. It’s just a complete puzzle to me.”
Maragh, 31, returned to the saddle Nov. 4 following a serious spill at Belmont Park in July 2015. The accident left him with several broken vertebrae, a broken rib, and a punctured lung, and required extensive and often painful rehabilitation.
“When I was down and out, these are the days I dreamed about,” said Maragh, who also guided home 2014 GI Wood Memorial hero Wicked Strong. “These are the days that made me feel I wanted to ride. You never know if you’ll get them again after being off so long. I can’t be more thankful for everyone who has been there for my recovery and supporting me now that I’m back. I’ve never been so emotional after a race in my life as I was after this.”
Irish War Cry was produced by the Isabelle de Tomaso New Jersey-bred homebred Irish Sovereign, a three-time winner. In addition to the stakes-placed Irish Politics (Political Force), the winner’s dam is also represented by a yearling filly by Lookin At Lucky and was bred back to Graydar.
WOOD MEMORIAL S. PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS-GII, $750,000, AQU, 4-8, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:50.91, ft.
1–IRISH WAR CRY, 123, c, 3, by Curlin
1st Dam: Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers
2nd Dam: Irish Genius, by Beau Genius
3rd Dam: Irish Trip (GB), by Saint Crespin III (GB)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O/B-Isabelle deTomaso (NJ); T-H. Graham
Motion; J-Rajiv Maragh. $400,000. Lifetime Record: 5-4-0-0,
$699,460. *1/2 to Irish Strait (English Channel), GSP, $171,638.Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick
2–Battalion Runner, 123, c, 3, Unbridled’s Song–Tamboz, by
Tapit. ‘TDN Rising Star’ ($700,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-St. Elias
Stable; B-Dell Ridge Farm, LLC (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher.
$140,000.3–Cloud Computing, 123, c, 3, Maclean’s Music–Quick Temper,
by A.P. Indy. ($200,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Klaravich Stables,
Inc. & William Lawrence; B-Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc &
Stretch Run Ventures, LLC (KY); T-Chad C. Brown. $75,000.Margins: 3HF, 3HF, 3HF. Odds: 3.50, 2.05, 2.40.
Also Ran: True Timber, Bonus Points, Glennrichment, Mo Town, Stretch’s Stone. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.