The Grade I, $750,000 Woodward Stakes is the closing Saturday feature at Saratoga. Nine of the best handicap horses in the nation will try their luck in this 1 1/8-mile heat. Post time for the Woodward, Race 11 of 12 on the day, is 6 p.m. ET.
#9 TOM’S D’ETAT (4-1) is trending in the right direction ahead of the Woodward Stakes. He was last seen acing Saratoga’s Alydar Stakes, running his record at this oval to 3-for-3. TOM’S D’ETAT has yet to win a graded stakes but hit the board in both the Alysheba and Stephen Foster earlier this year. Irad Ortiz Jr. takes over on the son of Smart Strike.
#7 YOSHIDA (5-2, morning-line favorite) seeks his second straight Woodward score under Joel Rosario. The Bill Mott trainee was last seen completing the exacta behind McKinzie in the Whitney Stakes, snapping a streak of four straight off-the-board finishes. YOSHIDA has had trouble stringing together winning efforts, making him tough to trust as the favorite. Still, he’s hard to leave out as he’s shown an affinity for this course.
#5 PRESERVATIONIST (7-2) could be in line for a bounce-back effort based on his training pattern. The Jimmy Jerkens pupil worked long and steady before firing a swift four-furlong breeze just before a winning effort in the Suburban at Belmont Park. PRESERVATIONIST trained aggressively toward the Whitney the following month at Saratoga and bounced, running a disappointing fourth. He’s gone back to the approach taken just before the Suburban to prep for the Woodward. Junior Alvarado rides once more.
#1 MR. BUFF (8-1) could sneak into the exotics if he fires his best shot in the Woodward. He decimated state-bred foes in the Evan Shipman last time out, running his record at nine furlongs to 8-6-0-1. Due to the rail draw, MR. BUFF is highly likely to make the early lead on Saturday under Jose Lezcano.
The play: $2 exacta key box 9/1,5,7, $4 exacta 9/5,7 ($20)
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