Gander Winner Barese Possible for Wood Memorial

Paradise Farms and David Staudacher’s Barese relished a stretch out in distance to capture the Feb. 12 one-turn mile Gander Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrackgiving his connections reason to consider a start in the nine-furlong $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino (G2) April 9. The Wood Memorial awarding points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) on a 100- 40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

Trained by Mike Maker, the 3-year-old New York-bred bobbled at the start of the Gander losing his left front shoe, but quickly recovered to stalk the pace in third under Dylan Davis, making up ground in the four path as the field entered the turn.

Barese looked to be running for place honors as post-time favorite Bold Journey drew away to a four-length advantage at the top of the lane but the Lebanon colt rallied fast down the stretch, sweeping by his rival for a 1 1/14-length score. Collecting his second stakes tally, both against state-bred company, Barese remained undefeated in three career starts for earnings of $151,250.

“He didn’t get away well and had a bit of a bobble,” Maker said. “He had quite a bit to do and in the process, he pulled off a shoe and was still able to run like that. It was only his third start and his first time at a mile, so everything he’s done so far has impressed me He came back in good order.”

The bay colt’s Gander win was his second consecutive stakes triumph after a 2 3/4-length victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Rego Park Stakes Jan. 9 at the Big A, marking a strong return from an eight-month layoff since his debut maiden win in May at Belmont Park.

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“We always had high hopes for him and he came back off an injury and didn’t seem like it affected him one bit,” Maker said. “We never missed a day with him (since his return to training) for any reason.”

Paradise Farms’ Peter Proscia said Barese has proven to be well worth his $150,000 purchase price at The Gulfstream Sale, Fasig-Tipton’s select 2-year-olds in training sale in Florida, in 2021. Barese was consigned by Sequel Bloodstock, which bred him in partnership with Lakland Farm out of the Successful Appeal mare Right Prevails. His 4-year-old full sister Breakfastatbonnies was third in the Feb. 13 Broadway Stakes at Aqueduct.

“Laoban had unfortunately passed away and so we were looking at his last crops,” Proscia said. “We were actually eyeballing (Barese) for the grass; Mike had picked him out. They wanted me to stop bidding at $110,000, but I kept going. I’m glad I did.”

Maker, who would prefer to keep Barese at route distances in the future, said the Wood Memorial is one of several options for the colt’s next start.

“Everything is on the table right now and I’ll get together with Peter and see what his thoughts are,” Maker said.

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