NEW YORK -- Barry Irwin can't believe his good luck. From the moment his Team Valor purchased Captain Bodgit, everything has broken right.
A deluge the day before the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park softened the fast track for the late-running Captain Bodgit. Then a mix-up involving nomination papers prompted Irwin and Gary Capuano, Captain Bodgit's Maryland trainer, to run today in the $500,000 Wood Memorial here at Aqueduct, instead of the $700,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, Ky.
The Wood is the race Capuano wanted all along.
But now, the first glitches have appeared. Irwin and Capuano are concerned that Captain Bodgit is peaking too soon and that rains today could force them to scratch the horse, altering his schedule perilously close to the Kentucky Derby on May 3.
But today's forecast calls for light rain, not a downpour. Capuano said he wouldn't risk injury to Captain Bodgit's misshapen tendon on a muddy, sticky track.
"He's vulnerable, anyway," Capuano said. "Knock on wood, the tendon's never given him any problem. But on a track that's sloppy and muddy and pulling on him, that's when it's the worst risk."
If Captain Bodgit races, then the other concern comes into play.
"Our biggest fear is he's going to peak too soon," Irwin said.
Added Capuano: "I wish the Derby was next week, because he's ready now."
Trying to take the edge off his fit horse, Capuano prescribed a leisurely workout Tuesday at Bowie.
"We don't really have him totally cranked," Irwin said. "We're not desperate to win this race. In fact, I just have a feeling we won't win this race."
Win or lose, Captain Bodgit will venture to Churchill Downs next week. The herd of horses joining him will be determined in large part by today's three prep races: the Wood, Blue Grass and $500,000 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.
Racing for berths in the Kentucky Derby will be Ordway, Accelerator and Smokin Mel in the Wood; Pulpit, Acceptable, King Crimson, Stolen Gold and Wrightwood in the Blue Grass, and Crypto Star, Phanton On Tour, Pacificbounty, Stop Watch, Deputy Commander and Zede in the Arkansas Derby.
The Wood is on ABC, and the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass on ESPN.
Pub Date: 4/12/97