NEW YORK -- A horse van will roll up Interstate 95 today carrying one of Maryland's hopes for a Kentucky Derby winner. The passenger, Captain Bodgit, will arrive shortly before midnight here at Aqueduct, where tomorrow he will race as the favorite in the $500,000 Wood Memorial Stakes.
Conditioned by Gary Capuano at the Bowie Training Center, Captain Bodgit was installed the 8-5 favorite yesterday in a field of 10 3-year-olds with Triple Crown aspirations. Captain Bodgit drew post position 6. Alex Solis will fly from California to ride him.
The Wood will be Captain Bodgit's final race before the Kentucky Derby on May 3. After upsetting the previously unbeaten Pulpit last month in the Florida Derby, Captain Bodgit could ensure his status as Kentucky Derby favorite with a sizzling performance in the Wood.
However, Capuano says he doesn't want an overly strenuous effort from Captain Bodgit.
"He's fit. He's ready for the Derby now," Capuano said at his barn at Bowie. "He doesn't have to win this race -- as long as he runs good and comes out good.
"How much more forward he can go is hard to tell. But he seems like he's just getting better and stronger."
The weather is a concern for the Captain Bodgit team. Tomorrow's forecast calls for occasional showers.
Capuano says he will not run the horse on a muddy track and risk injuring the tendon in his left foreleg. The tendon sticks out as if it were bowed -- and has for more than a year.
Capuano says that it has never bothered the horse, but that he wouldn't run him on a muddy, pulling track.
Assuming rain doesn't keep Captain Bodgit in the barn, the Florida-bred son of Saint Ballado will face nine in the Wood. Ordway, 2-1 in the morning line, and Accelerator, 5-1, will break from the 1 and 2 posts, respectively. Like Captain Bodgit, they are closers.
Several early speedsters joined the field this week, including Smokin Mel, surprise winner March 29 of the one-mile Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. At 8-1, Smokin Mel should provide the target that late runners require.
The Wood, of course, is not tomorrow's only major Derby prep. At Keeneland, Ky., Pulpit is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in a field of seven for the $700,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. In Hot Springs, Ark., Crypto Star, the Louisiana Derby winner, is the tepid 3-1 favorite in the $500,000 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.
All three races are 1 1/8 miles. The Wood will be televised on ABC, and the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby on ESPN.
Pub Date: 4/11/97