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Aqueduct Racetrack, in New York, was the site of the last prep race for Kentucky Derby contenders Gemologist and Alpha as they squared off in the $1 million Wood Memorial. The pair didn’t disappoint, with the race coming right down to the wire with Todd Pletcher’s Gemologist taking the win by a neck.

The Lumber Guy bolted from the post to grab an immediate lead as he sprinted out front by three lengths early. At the quarter mile mark, he continued to lead with My Adonis and Gemologist just off the pace. The trio held steady at the front as they moved past half a mile approaching the turn, with Alpha moving into the fourth position. It was just past the top of the stretch when Gemologist made a big leap forward as My Adonis and The Lumber Guy couldn’t maintain their speed. Alpha was able to break away on the outside and challenged Gemologist, with Teeth of the Dog coming on strong as well. It looked as though Alpha had all the momentum and would take the lead, but jockey Javier Castellano asked for more and Gemologist gave it to him, holding off the challenge to win by a neck, with Teeth of the Dog crossing the finish two lengths behind.

Castellano, who has been aboard Gemologist in every one of his races was thrilled with the ability of his horse to find the extra gear; “I was concerned (when Alpha was coming) because my horse was still looking around at the crowd. When he saw the horse coming, he took off again.” {1} Gemologist and Alpha will meet again on May 4th in Louisville for the 138th Kentucky Derby. Pletcher has one Kentucky Derby win under his belt, with Super Saver in 2010, and is confident in the ability of his undefeated contender; “With this horse being two for two at Churchill Downs, I think he’s got as good a chance as anybody.” {2}

{2} Courier-Journal Sports 4/8/2012