Woodhaven Stakes $125k (Aqueduct) - Analysis, picks, and predictions (GRADE: 75%)

Pick Pony |April 26, 2024, 3:55 a.m.

About the Woodhaven Stakes race

A grass-surface proving ground for three-year-olds

Woodhaven Stakes is a 1-mile race run at Aqueduct on turf. It is restricted to three-year-olds and awards a $125,000 purse.
Since 2016, the race has been a 1 1/6-mile route. Last year, the race was shortened to 1 mile.

2024 Woodhaven Stakes analysis, picks, predictions

The 2024 Woodhaven Stakes is Race 6 on Saturday’s nine-race card. There is little chance of rain on the day of the race so turf it will be. Here are the entries for the 1-mile route in post-position order.

Ridgewood Runner

Ridgewood Runner’s speed is trending flat, with a noticeable drop in speed in his last race. We would presume something was wrong, but he’s done this before and returned a few weeks later to clock at one of his best speeds. 

Trainer Carlos Martin says the 8th place finish in his last race was due to a tactical error on their part. Rather than stalking, they will return Ridgewood Runner to a faster early pace.

His last works was surprisingly slow too. Still, you can’t help but notice that Ridgewood Runner’s top speed rating set at Aqueduct a few months ago. Throw in inexperience on turf and you’ve got a conundrum of the first order. His inconsistency makes him extremely difficult to handicap so we will be forced to toss unless a massive overlay develops (and 20:1 right now, is looking pretty sweet).

Carson's Run

Carson’s Run doesn’t have a lot of experience but the experience he does have is pretty important. This sire of Cupid was bred for the turf and turf is what Carson’s Run specializes on.

His last works were a bit off and he’s also coming off a six-month layoff. The layoff might worry us after that disastrous 9th-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita, but Christophe Clement knows how to rest a horse. He’s 50% in the money after 90+ days away.

Carson’s Run’s speed is trending up, as is his early pace (late pace is trending down slightly). Owner Jason Blewitt (West Point Thoroughbreds) emphasized his competitiveness and spirit:

“He’s filled out. He’s gotten a little beefier and I don’t know that he’s grown so much per se, but he’s gotten stronger. He always seemed to have a really good mind in his races last season, and had a devastating closing kick. He’s such a determined horse – we saw that first out at Saratoga, and how relentless he was in the Summer. He’s got the heart and the drive, so let’s see what happens this weekend.”

Carson’s Run is probably the fastest horse in this race unless Elysian Meadows shows up with his afterburners on. And if both colts are on their game, we’ve got an exciting race on our hands.

We think there’s a fair chance Carson’s Run takes the win home. It might pay to box him with Elysian Meadows in the exacta.

Works for Me

Works for Me has a single turf start, and he clocked the fastest speed ever. His works have peaked, and his early pace ratings are climbing. He’s had a few slow races recently, but not enough to stop his speed numbers from trending up.

He’ll likely take an early lead and, if he holds it, may indeed chew Carson’s Run and Elysian Meadows to pieces. But will he have enough in the tank to hold them off? Not likely. He’s never raced at this distance before, and even in races as short as 5f, he has shown he tires too easily. We could see Works for Me on the board, but just barely.

Good Lord Lorrie

Good Lord Lorrie comes in the least experienced of the bunch with a single win on turf to break his maiden. He turned out some good numbers and showed that he likes to press, but his competition that day was not nearly as good as he’ll see here. His sire (Hard Spun) definitely excelled on turf, so we have no reason to expect Good Lord Lorrie won’t, too. There’s not enough data to let us put him in the money. We suspect he’ll be close, though, and could be a worthy bet if the overlay looks good.

The Big Torpedo

The Big Torpedo looks like the hardest-working horse in this race. He’s turned out good numbers on both turf and in the mud. He had a disastrous run in February, which, given his little experience, makes his numbers look worse than they really are. Toss that one blip, and you’ve got one of the fastest horses in the race with fairly consistent speed. More importantly, he’s coming in under the radar with a good overlay developing.

Trainer Tom Morley believes he’s ready for turf:

“I’ve always believed that he is going to be a better grass horse than he is a dirt horse, and he ran extremely well on debut sprinting on the turf. All winter I’ve been looking for an excuse to give him a bit of a break, but he continues to improve every month physically and mentally, and has given us no indication that was on his agenda.”

We’re putting The Big Torpedo on the board.

Walley World

How can you not love a horse named Walley World? He’s got a tremendous trainer in Chad Brown and Manuel Franco in the irons is a good fit. He’s experienced on turf but has only turned out average speed numbers thus far, with no sign yet of noteworthy improvement. Given his declining works, we’re not convinced he can make it on the board. Toss.

Elysian Meadows

Elysian Meadows is fast. Like, really, really fast - on dirt. This young colt has zero experience on turf. This race will be his proving grounds - and we think he’s going to prove himself superior on the grass. He’s sired by City of Light who was a master of the turf.

His works are concerning and have been trailing off for a while now. How Elysian Meadows fares in this race is entirely up to Carson’s Run. If CR comes in hot, he’ll likely stand at the top of the board. But with the slightest of missteps, the win will go to Elysian Meadows (unless Works for Me sneaks in and dishes us an upset).

Predicted order

    1.    Carson’s Run
    2.    Elysian Meadows
    3.    The Big Torpedo
    4.    Good Lord Lorrie
    5.    Works for Me
    6.    Walley World
    7.    Ridgewood Runner