Mark Schwartz's Brooklyn Strong has emerged from the winter season stronger than ever following a brief illness that kept the colt from running in the first of the year's preps for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).
Trained by Danny Velazquez, the winner of the Dec. 5 Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack had originally targeted a 2021 debut in the Feb. 6 Withers Stakes (G3) at the New York track but was forced to bypass the race. He's now being pointed to the Wood Memorial Presented by Resorts World Casino (G2) April 3 at Aqueduct.
"My trainer and rider are very happy with how he's working and his first workout," Schwartz said via text. "He will have four more longer works and then return in the Wood. The vets who worked with him said that he will be a better horse after his illness."
The April 3 Wood is among the final three North American prep races in the United States that offer qualifying points toward the first of the American classics. The first four finishers in the nine-furlong race are awarded points (100-40-20-10).
Brooklyn Strong's Remsen win earned the colt 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which ranks 19th on the current leaderboard.
Schwartz said he's hopeful that the Wood Memorial will afford Brooklyn Strong the opportunity he needs to earn his way into the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in May. However, he has not ruled out starting the colt in the second and third legs of the Triple Crown should plans change.
"We have a chance to get to the Derby in the Wood," said Schwartz. "We have no doubt that he will compete with any of the favorites for the Derby if we're lucky enough to get there. If not, we will be at the Preakness (Stakes, G1) or for sure in the Belmont (Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, G1)."