‘Big, Scopey’ Roman Centurian Aimed At Wood Memorial

Trainer Simon Callaghan said Roman Centurian, bred and co-owned by Don Alberto Stable with Qatar Racing Limited, is likely to make his next start in the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Wood Memorial card features the first Grade 1 of 2021 on the NYRA circuit in the $300,000 Carter Handicap, a seven-furlong sprint for older horses. The stakes-laden day also features the $250,000 Gazelle at nine furlongs for sophomore fillies offering 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the top-four finishers; the $200,000 Bay Shore, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores; and the $150,000 Excelsior at nine furlongs for older horses.

By Empire Maker and out of the Bernardini mare Spare Change, Roman Centurian finished fourth last out to the victorious Life Is Good in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park.

The dark bay colt, a $550,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, breezed back for the first time Thursday at Santa Anita covering a half-mile in 50.40 seconds.

“I think there’s a very good chance that we will ship to New York,” said Callaghan. “He breezed very well yesterday and we were happy. He’ll breeze again next week and it’s looking more likely that we’ll come.”

After a debut fourth sprinting in a maiden event won by Life Is Good in November at Del Mar, Roman Centurian stretched out to 1 1/16-miles for his second-out graduation on Jan. 3 at Santa Anita. He exited that effort to finish a good second in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, rallying from last-of-6 to miss by a neck to Medina Spirit in the 1 1/16-mile test.

Roman Centurian is currently 33rd on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 9 points. Callaghan said a trip to New York for the Wood Memorial, which offers 100-40-20-10 points to the top-four finishers, will suit the improving horse more than a return engagement with Life Is Good in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 3.

“Life is Good is looking like a pretty formidable horse right now and I think that the track at Aqueduct will be more to his liking,” said Callaghan. “We’ve always liked him. He made good progress from his maiden win to running a close second to Medina Spirit.

“I don’t think the race set up very well for him last time,” added Callaghan. “We’re hoping that with another race under his belt and moving to a track that we think will be more to his liking, that we’ll see a good performance to move him forward.”

The Callaghan-trained Firing Line, who was also a runner-up in the Robert B. Lewis, finished second in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. The veteran conditioner, a native of Great Britain who set up his stable in Southern California in 2009, said Roman Centurian should appreciate the added distance in the nine-furlong Wood Memorial.

“He’s a big, scopey two-turn kind of horse,” said Callaghan. “I think he’s got some progression in him. He’s a nice framed horse who is going to strengthen as the year goes on. We’re hoping we can have a good 3-year-old year with him.”

A winner with 2-of-3 starters at the Big A, Callaghan scored with Taris in the 2015 Grade 3 Go for Wand and with Out of The Flames in the 2018 Mizdirection. He sent out Americanize to finish fourth in the 2017 Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

Callaghan said a local rider is likely to pick up the Wood mount aboard Roman Centurian.

A probable list of Wood Memorial contenders includes Brooklyn Strong (Daniel Velazquez), Crowded Trade (Chad Brown), Dynamic One (Todd Pletcher), Nicky the Vest (Jonathan Thomas), Overtook (Pletcher), Risk Taking (Brown), and Weyburn (Jimmy Jerkens). Also under consideration are Prevalence (Brendan Walsh) and Rombauer (Michael McCarthy).

The post ‘Big, Scopey’ Roman Centurian Aimed At Wood Memorial appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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