Mr. Swagger to G2 Wood Memorial, Little Vic to G1 Carter

March 29, 2023

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Mr. Swagger, a troubled sixth last out in the Grade 3 Gotham over a muddy and sealed main track on March 4, will return to Aqueduct on April 8 for the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino. The Wood Memorial offers 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers.

The Juan Carlos Avila trainee, a sophomore son of Maclean’s Music, is owned by Victoria’s Ranch – the racing operation of retired professional baseball player Victor Martinez, a five-time MLB All-Star.

Mr. Swagger worked six furlongs in 1:19.47 Saturday over a deep Parx main track.

“He’s perfect. He went easy and strong and finished up very nice. We are ready for the Wood Memorial and I think he’s ready for a nice race,” Avila said.

The $225,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase has made both of his career starts at the Big A with Carlos Olivero up. He graduated on debut in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint on January 28 by three-quarters of a length over Register, who exited that event to earn a 93 Beyer in a narrow nose maiden score.

Mr. Swagger, who added blinkers when exiting post 3 in the Gotham, was bumped at the break and prompted the pace from fourth position at the half-mile call, but failed to fire after saving ground through the turn.

In the Gotham, I said to Carlos that I want to see Mr. Swagger be last place, but he was much closer,” Avila said. “Hopefully, this time he can stay back.”

Avila said Mr. Swagger will keep the blinkers on for the Wood Memorial.

Out of the Thunder Gulch mare Tee Off, Mr. Swagger is a half-brother to multiple graded-stakes winning turf router Five Iron.

In addition to Mr. Swagger, the probable field for the Wood Memorial includes Classic Catch (Todd Pletcher), Clear the Air (William Walden), Crupi (Pletcher), Dreamlike (Pletcher), Hit Show (Brad Cox), Lord Miles (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Shadow Dragon (Bill Mott) and Slip Mahoney (Cox). Possible starters include Arctic Arrogance (Linda Rice), I Don’t Get It (Doug O’Neill), Raise Cain (Ben Colebrook), and Transect (Paulo Lobo).

Little Vic makes the grade in the Tom Fool Handicap (NYRA/Coglianese)

Little Vic, also owned by Victoria’s Ranch, made the grade with a stalking 1 1/2-length score over graded-stakes winner Runninsonofagun on the Gotham undercard in the six-furlong Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap.

The 4-year-old Practical Joke colt will return to the Big A on April 8 for the seven-furlong Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets. The Tom Fool victory provided Olivero, who has the return call on both Wood Memorial Day starters, with his first graded score.

Little Vic breezed five-eighths in 1:06.18 Saturday at Parx.

“He’s doing very well. He went very easy. He’ll breeze against Saturday and be ready for the Carter,” Avila said.

Little Vic made his Big A debut three starts back in the six-furlong Gravesend where he lost focus at the quarter-pole and was defeated a nose by multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Drafted. He added blinkers for his next start in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan on January 28 at the Big A and completed the exacta behind a runaway Repo Rocks with Drafted in third.

Avila said Little Vic will again wear blinkers in the Carter and that a good effort will propel the colt to the seven-furlong Grade 1 Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

“The blinkers are perfect and help keep him focused through the race. I like him at seven furlongs,” Avila said.

Little Vic has finished first or second in each of his last five starts, including an allowance score over older horses in October at Delaware Park ahead of a win in the City of Laurel in November at Laurel Park.

A $50,000 purchased at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Little Vic is out of the multiple stakes-winning Rock Hard Ten mare Rock and Glory, who is a half-sister to multiple stakes-placed Gorgeous Ginny.

Great read! Thanks @jonathanstettin Feels like you’re sitting across the table breaking down the day with the expert…

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