Horse Racing Odds: Gun Runner Tops Field for Woodward Stakes

David Schwab

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 10:18 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 10:18 PM UTC

Right on the heels of last weekend's race card at Saratoga highlighted by West Coast’s stirring victory in the $1.25 million Travers Stakes is another full card of horse racing this Saturday. The headline event of the day is the $750,000 Woodward Stakes featuring a few of the top thoroughbreds in the nation age 3 and up.

The field for this year’s Woodward Stakes may be smaller than expected with six entries listed as probable, but it will still run deep in talent with the No. 3 ranked horse by Horse Racing Nation expected to go off as the morning line favorite. He is part of my trifecta play for this race along with two other horses who have what it takes to finish in the money given their past experience racing at this famed venue.


2017 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga

The Woodward is a Grade 1 stakes race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds and up with the total prize purse set at $750,000. It will be contested on the dirt track at Saratoga over a distance of 1 1/8 miles.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has an eye towards this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic with Gun Runner’s entry in this race. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt has a lofty 9.04 rating to go along with his No. 3 ranking by HRN. He is fresh off a victory in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 5 over Keen Ice and Breaking Lucky at a distance of 1 1/8 miles to extend his run to four finishes of either first or second in four previous events this year.

This sire of Candy Ride placed third in the Travers Stakes last season so I also like his home-track advantage at Saratoga heading into this Saturday’s main event. Going back over his last two racing seasons, Gun Runner has placed in the money in 12 of 13 events.

I decided to reach a bit with my second choice by going with  trainer Todd Pletcher’s Rally Cry. Pletcher’s other probable entry for the Woodward, Neolithic, has a much better HRN rating at 8.60, but I really like the fact that this 4-year-old colt is coming off a big win in the ungraded Alydar Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 6 at a distance of 1 1/8 miles. While the competition this Saturday will be dialed up quite a bit higher this time around the dirt track, I am once again leaning on his past success racing at this venue.

A pedigree of Uncle Mo, Rally Cry has been a proven money-winner over the course of his racing career. He has finished in the money six times in eight events, but he is still looking for that first finish in the top three of a major graded event.

Rounding out my trifecta pick for this year’s Woodward would be trainer Joe Navarro’s War Story. There is a bit of concern with his recent fourth-place finish in the Whitney a few weeks back, but I am heavily relying on past track experience with all three of my picks for this race. This 5-year-old gelding has been on my racing radar all season long after a strong showing at Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in late January with a fifth-place finish against a stacked field that included Arrogate as the winner. He went on to win the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont on June 10 at a distance of 1 ½ miles.

War Story is the son of Northern Afleet, and his current 7.48 HRN rating is reflective of the success he has had in the past when it comes to major graded events.

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