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Big 3 Pick 3 Results



Tapit winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct over Master David and Eddington.

Adam Coglianese - NYRA Photo
Updated April 11, 2004
Although some of the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby raced in their final prep in last weekend’s Santa Anita and Illinois Derbies, the majority of the serious Triple Crown hopefuls use the Big 3 Pick 3 races, for their final tune-up for the big dance. The Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, held three weeks before the Kentucky Derby, form the special national Pick 3 wager. Each race is run at 1 1/8 miles, just one furlong shorter than the Run for the Roses. This time the string of longshots that has muddled the Triple Crown trail was snapped with convincing and at least somewhat favored winners in all four of the biggest preps held this weekend.

The first leg of the Big Three was the $750,000 Wood Memorial, where eleven went to post, with one circuit of Aqueduct’s main track in front of them. Sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite in the Grade 1 event was Value Plus, and he took on fellow hopefuls Eddington, Master David, and Tapit, the next choices in the wagering, respectively. 18-1 shot Sinister G and the favorite Value Plus battled on the front end early, taking the field through a quick initial quarter of 23.74, a half in 47.12, and three quarters in 1:11.40, with longest shot Cuba staying close behind. The quick pace set the race up for the closers. Turning for home, Value Plus was finished and quickly dropped out of contention, eventually finishing sixth. Master David, who had chased the pace in fifth early on, on through on the rail and closed well. To his outside was 5-1 shot Tapit, who was taken back at the start and trailed the field down the backstretch. Tapit charged well down the lane, and outfinished Master David and Eddington in the final 1/16 to get the win by 1/2 a length in 1:49.70 for the 1 1/8 miles. It was just a nose back from Master David to Eddington.
Results Chart

Winning jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "I was on top of him and he did it extremely easy. He had a lot of horse left in the tank, regardless of whether or not he was 100 percent. You couldn't ask for a horse to behave better than he did. Around the turn, I knew he could angle out at any time. When we got to the top of the lane, I said it was time for me to circle horses. From the quarter-pole home, he picked it up very gradually and made me feel that he wasn't all out by any means. He was the last horse to pull up. He galloped out very strong."

Trainer Michael Dickinson said, Today, all I wanted to be was third to qualify him. I would have done anything to be third in today's race. He is a very courageous horse. He wasn't at his best today. He was very sick four weeks ago, and under normal circumstances, you wouldn't bring a horse back in four weeks. He is going to improve. I told [owner] Mr.[Ron] Winchell that if we ran third today, we would have a really good chance on the first of May (Kentucky Derby Day).

Bobby Frankel, trainer of second place finisher Master David, said, "He's in the Derby. He ran great today and I'm very happy with him. He hasn't been out in two months. I think he got beat because he didn't see the other horse on the outside. I have to have him cranked up right now because I need the money to get him in the Derby. He's a tough little horse, not as big as some of the other ones. But he gave it everything he had."

Although not a major Kentucky Derby prep, the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes on the Wood Memorial undercard is still an important race for thee-year-olds who are more likely to skip the Derby and instead enter in the Peter Pan, the Belmont or later races for the sophomore division. 11-10 favorite Forest Danger lived up to expectation, taking the seven furlong sprint in gate-to-wire fashion by 7 1/2 widening lengths over 8-1 shot Abbondanza in a time of 1:20.67.
Results Chart

Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "This is a fast horse. He has impressed us since Day 1 You are always kind of cautious when you go from maiden and allowance races to a graded stakes. I wasn't surprised he was able to do this because he had trained so well. We'll see how he bounces out of this. The Withers is our first thought, as well as he ran over this track today. We'll play it by ear and see."

Wood Memorial - Blue Grass - Arkansas Derby

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