Irish War Cry Impressive in Wood Memorial Win – Kentucky Derby Next
Irish War Cry left little doubt that he’s a top Kentucky Derby contender Saturday at Aqueduct. Showing his speed and carrying it out to win decisively down the stretch, Irish War Cry (7/2) registered a 101 Beyer Speed Figure to capture the 1 1/8 mile Wood Memorial by 3 ½ lengths over co-favorite Battalion Runner (2-1). Cloud Computing was another 3 ½ lengths back in 3rd with True Timber finishing 4th to pick up 10 Kentucky Derby points.
Irish War Cry has now won 4 of his 5 starts while registering 100+ Beyer Speed Figures in those four victories. After stringing out three wide into the first turn, Irish War Cry tucked in closer on the back stretch while tracking the pace setter Battalion Runner. He drew up and latched onto the leader and arrived at the three eighths pole nearly even. From there, jockey Rajiv Maragh asked for his best at the eighth pole and Irish War Cry responded and kicked away impressively to win in a final time of 1:50.91.
Irish War Cry, a New Jersey-bred son of Curlin, returned $9.00, $4.70 and $3.20 and picked up $400,000 as the Wood Memorial winner.
“He relaxed real easily, he did everything I wanted him to do without a lot of effort, he did it all in rhythm,” Maragh said. “That’s what we were hoping for; he wasn’t rank at all, he settled beautifully.
Trainer Graham Motion excels as a conditioner of long distance runners, and Irish War Cry looks like he’s ready to carry the extra Derby distance and make a Run for the Roses May 6. Irish War Cry has plenty of natural speed and showed again in the Wood Memorial that he can gain tactical position. There is versatility here which will serve Irish War Cry well when he competes with 20 other horses in the Kentucky Derby.
The Wood Memorial has not produced a top-three finisher in the Kentucky Derby since Funny Cide and Empire Maker ran 1-2 in 2003. But Irish War Cry looks like he’ll be a top contender and one of the favorites when he gets in the starting gate for the Derby May 6.