Eleven Things to Know About the Woodward Stakes
By Christina Moore, courtesy America's Best Racing
The $750,000 Woodward Stakes is a headliner on the final weekend of racing at Saratoga’s famed summer meet, and it’s attracted a few stars for the 2017 edition including Gun Runner and Neolithic. Tune in to NBC Sports at 6 ET to watch them square off on Saturday and make sure you’re ready for the historic race with the fun facts below.
1. The Woodward is named for William Woodward Sr., whose Belair Stud campaigned two Triple Crown winners in Gallant Fox and Omaha. He was also chairman of The Jockey Club from 1930 to 1950.
2. The Woodward was inaugurated in 1954 at Belmont Park, and it has also been run at Aqueduct. It was moved to Saratoga for the 2006 edition.
3. Just two fillies have ever won the Woodward, and both since the turn of the century. Rachel Alexandra won the race as a 3-year-old in 2009 and Havre de Grace won two years later at age 4.
4. Four horses have won the Triple Crown since the Woodward has been in existence, and three of them later ran in the Woodward. Seattle Slew (1978) and Affirmed (1979) both won the race, while Secretariat was upset by Prove Out in 1973.
5. California shipper Bertrando won the race by a record 13 ½ lengths in 1993 for trainer Bobby Frankel, the first of four Woodward wins for the late Hall of Famer.
6. The Woodward has been run at four different distances. It was run at a mile in its debut year of 1954, and for several periods in the past it was run at 1 ¼ miles and 1 ½ miles. It has been contested at 1 1/8 miles since 1990.
7. The betting favorite has won 17 of the last 25 Woodwards but only one of the last five. Of the 16 horses sent off as odds-on favorites in those 25 years, just three of them have lost.
8. Trainer Steve Asmussen has two wins in the race, both with horses crowned Horse of the Year that same year: Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Curlin (2008). This year he trains betting favorite and Whitney Stakes winner Gun Runner.
9. Six horses have won the Woodward more than once. Among them, the heroic Kelso won three straight (1961-63) and legendary Forego captured four consecutive editions (1974-77).
10. Spectacular Bid won the Woodward in a walkover in 1980 when no other horse dared face him. It was the first walkover in the U.S. in 31 years.
11. Jockeys Javier Castellano and John Velazquez have won five of the last seven editions of the race. Castellano won the last two (2015-16) while Velazquez won in 2010, 2012 and 2013.