Gemologist took home the $1 million purse at the running of the 2012 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack at Resorts World Casino on Saturday before a crowd of 12,514.
The field included 12 three-year-old horses, and the victory all but ensures a spot for Gemologist in the May 5th Kentucky Derby, which is limited to a field of 20 three-year-olds.
“That’s a great win, he’s a great horse,” said Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm, winning owner of Gemologist, said after the race. “This stamps him as a Derby prospect, which we’re excited about.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Gemologist ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.96.
“I had a great trip,” said Castellano. “Turning for home, he was looking around at horses. When I asked him, he took off again. I like that.”
Gemologist got out to a commanding lead and looked like a shoe-in, until Alpha began to close the gap near the end.
“I was concerned [when I saw Alpha closing] because my horse was still looking around at the crowd,” said Castellano. “When he saw the horse coming, he took off again.”
Gemologist ranged boldly into contention with a three-wide move on the final turn. He appeared on his way to a commanding win until Alpha shook loose.
“When I asked him, he took off again,’’ Castellano said. “I like that. I was concerned when Alpha was closing because my horse was just looking around at the crowd.”
Alpha, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, will also race in the Kentucky Derby.
“He was very good in the gate, he got checked into the first turn hard, but he still ran great with a little traffic and took the dirt well,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Alpha for Godolphin Stable. “We got beat a ‘zop,’ but we’re going on to May 5.”