Godolphin Racing's Enticed emerged from his runner-up finish in Saturday's Wood Memorial at Aqueduct no worse for wear and will continue to target the Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs, said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin Sunday morning.
Enticed, by Medaglia d'Oro and out of multiple Grade 1 winner It's Tricky, raced in second early behind rank pacesetter Old Time Revival and battled for the lead in the final quarter-mile with Vino Rosso, who ultimately prevailed by three lengths. Vino Rosso, ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, bumped solidly with Enticed in the stretch, prompting a stewards' inquiry and a jockey's objection lodged by Enticed's rider, Junior Alvarado. After a lengthy review, the results were allowed to stand.
“We ran very well. The horse that was on the lead was difficult and we were a little closer than I thought we'd be,” said McLaughlin. “He broke well and laid second. We ran very well, and obviously Johnny came over and definitely bumped us pretty hard twice down the lane, but the stewards didn't think it was enough to change the result, so we had to finish second and we'll move on to Kentucky. We have our points and he came out of it in good shape.”
Enticed, winner of the Grade 3 Gotham in March at the Big A and the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club last November at Churchill, currently sits sixth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 103 points.
McLaughlin said Enticed is scheduled to ship on Tuesday to Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach, Florida, where he will complete most of his Kentucky Derby preparations.
“Mainly because of the weather, and it's very quiet there in the month of April because of all the horses that have shipped out, so it's almost like a private training center,” he said. “We'll train there and point for the Derby. We're doubtful that we'll even work him at Churchill, because he won there last fall and we already know that he likes the track.”
McLaughlin also reported that Grade 2 Gazelle runner-up Sara Street came out of her race in good shape, but there is no decision yet as to whether the Street Sense filly will be pointed to the Kentucky Oaks.
“She came out of the race in good shape,” he said. “She ran very well, she was very game. I thought she was going to win at the eighth pole, but she kept trying. We were very happy with the race. We don't know what we're going to do with her for her next race.”
Mr. Amore Stable's Firenze Fire, the fourth-place finisher in Saturday's Wood Memorial, will go on to the May 5 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs as long as he has enough points earned for a start, said owner Ron Lombardi. The multiple graded stakes winner sits 18th with 39 points earned on the Kentucky Derby trail.
“Obviously, we're still on the bubble,” Lombardi said. “We have to wait and see what happens next week, and let everything straighten out from there. We're sitting at 18 right now, so we just have to see, but it's been that way all season. We'll just wait for the rest, but if we do get the points we're going.”
The son of Poseidon's Warrior made his ninth career start in the Wood, and finished a lackluster fourth amid the field of nine. The Florida-bred replicated his placing in the March 10 Grade 3 Gotham Stakes where he failed to close and ran fourth amid eight others. A better effort was expected in the Wood.
“As far as the race yesterday, I was disappointed with how he ran,” said Lombardi. “We knew that the 4 horse [Old Time Revival] was going to go out to the lead, but I wanted him to be closer. We always break well, but we were too far back and he just didn't have enough.”
Firenze Fire broke his maiden first out at Monmouth Park before capturing the Grade 3 Sanford at Saratoga. He followed with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Hopeful, but then rebounded with a victory in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park. Firenze Fire earned 10 points in the Champagne towards a berth in the Derby then, after a seventh-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, earned an additional 10 with a victory in the Jerome in January.
A runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct earned four points padded by his two subsequent fourth placings with added five and 10 points respectively. After a tough campaign, the winner of four races with earnings of $669,100 will force his connections to wait before confirming his next start.
“It's funny, a reporter asked me the other day about how I feel about the points system,” Lombardi said. “I joked that if we were in, I'd be fine with it. I think it's a good system, but I think it can be improved. Maybe horses that run more, or have higher earnings or a combination of both could get points, too.
“The way it's set up, you could have a horse win one race at 30-1, and he's in,” he continued. “Maybe change the points system itself? I really don't have a problem with it, it works, but I think there are ways to improve it. We'll just have to see.”
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