Wood Memorial is Final Race for El Areeb before Kentucky Derby
M M G Stables’ multiple Grade 3 winner and Triple Crown contender El Areeb had an easy work Wednesday morning at Laurel Park as he continues preparations for his next start in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) April 8 at Aqueduct.
Working 1 1/8 miles over the main track in company with multiple stakes winner Winter, El Areeb was timed in 51.60 seconds for the final half-mile. Trainer Cal Lynch’s son and assistant, Charlie, was aboard El Areeb with current meet-leading rider Trevor McCarthy on Winter.
“He felt great. He keeps continuing to grow and get better and better every day. We loved the way he worked today,” Charlie Lynch said. “He was pulling me all the way around there so we’re really happy with that. My dad had a really big smile on his face when we got back so that’s a good sign, usually.”
El Areeb won of the Jerome (G3) and Withers (G3) at Aqueduct to kick off his 3-year-old campaign. He then set a demanding pace of 23.58 seconds, 47.70 and 1:13.59 before tiring to finish third as the favorite in the Gotham March 4, beaten 11 lengths by J Boys Echo.
El Areeb has worked three times since having his four-race win streak snapped.
“It was an easier work today than last week. Winter is running in the stake on Sunday and I didn’t want her to go too fast and leave her race on the track,” Cal Lynch said. “They both worked really good and came back good. It looks like the Wood is right on schedule.”
The Wood Memorial has produced 20 Kentucky Derby winners, and El Areeb will face his toughest competition in the Wood with expected stakes winners One Liner, Mo Town and Irish War Cry set to challenge, along with Gotham runner-up Cloud Computing. As part of the official Road to the Kentucky Derby prep series, the 1 1/8-mile Wood is the final stop in New York en route to the “Run for the Roses,” worth 100 qualifying points to the winner, 40 points to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth – virtually guaranteeing the top two finishers spots in the starting gate in the Grade 1, $2 million Kentucky Derby May 7 at Churchill Downs. El Areeb currently has 30 points and is 12th in the 2017 Kentucky Derby points standings.
Cal Lynch said El Areeb will have a final breeze April 4 and ship to New York the following day for the 1 1/8 miles Wood Memorial.