Tonight, Wood Machine (Marquet Rent, by Marquetry) took a little jog around the Delta Downs main track.
There were nine other horses, some people in the stands, wagers being made…but, tonight looked like just a fun little splash in the mud for this three-year-old Curlin colt.
Wood Machine had raced three times before. He debuted going a mile over the grass at Indiana Grand in September, finishing third in a maiden special weight behind Broughton Kitten. He then went south with trainer Tom Amoss, surfacing at Delta Downs. Wood Machine worked up a storm, and went off the odds-on favourite in a six and a half furlong maiden special weight on December 26. He did not run up to his sharp worktab, finishing an uninspiring fifth. He returned against the same level January 30, stretching to seven furlongs, but finished a well-beaten fourth.
Today he ran again at Delta, but a few things changed. He shortened back up to six and a half furlongs. Rain had fallen, and Wood Machine was trying a sloppy track for the first time. Finally, he was on The Drop, racing for a tag for the first time. Delta only offers $20,000 and $10,000 maiden claiming races; he was in at the lower of those levels.
Wood Machine drew the far outside gate in that field of ten. He broke well, joined the front flight of horses, and went three wide into the turn. Em’s Perfect Ten and Golfcartman took up the front, through the turn, with Wood Machine settling an easy two or three lengths off the pace. Down the backstretch, he steadily closed up that ground. Jockey Gerard Melancon was not putting him under a ride yet; he was just a faster runner than the horses in front of them. He went around the pacesetting pair, made a smooth pass, and opened up a few lengths. Em’s Perfect Ten kept giving chase, but made no headway. Wood Machine gradually increased his lead through the clubhouse turn and the short stretch, crossing the wire 10 3/4 lengths ahead of Em’s Perfect Ten.
Wood Machine could not have won that race in a more decisive or easy manner. It was the sort of race I had been hoping to see in December or January. Though took a class drop to get him there and it remains to be seen whether he will reproduce that form over dry dirt…this was a step in the right direction. His easy win suggests that no one has seen the best of Wood Machine yet.
Congratulations, Wood Machine!