NYRA Offers $250,000 Bonus Option for April 7 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct
In the morning of the Jerome Stakes Jan. 13, the NYRA management made a move to get Aqueduct’s signature race, the $750,000, Grade 2 Wood Memorial, put back up to the Grade 1 status it lost two years ago when the Graded Stakes Committee dropped it a peg on the grading scale.
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) announced they will offer a bonus of $250,000 if at least one horse that starts in the Wood on April 7 is a Grade 1 winner. Firenze Fire, who won the Jerome Saturday and previously the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park in October, is likely to run in the Grade III Gotham March 10 at Aquduct. Should the horses trainer Jason Servis enter Firenze Fire in the Wood Memorial, racing fans will be watching a $1 million dollar Derby prep race.
If any horse in the Wood Memorial field registers a grade 1 or group 1 victory prior to running in the 94th edition of the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial, NYRA will increase the total purse by $250,000 if the qualifying horse is declared an official starter.
Should a grade or group 1 winner become an official starter and trigger the increase, the Wood Memorial winner would earn $590,000 with the runner-up garnering $190,000, and third-place finisher collecting $90,000.
“The goal of this bonus program, which can raise the Wood Memorial purse to $1 million, is to bring the most talented 3-year-olds in the country to the Wood on April 7,” said NYRA president and CEO Chris Kay. “Racing fans can look forward to a tremendous card on Wood Day that includes prestigious races such as the Carter Handicap, Gazelle, Bay Shore, and Excelsior.”
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Wood Memorial is worth 100 qualifying points to the winner, 40 points to second, 20 to third, and 10 to fourth, bolstering the bids of the top finishers to earn sports in the starting gate of the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).