Darley Victoria stallion Hard Spun threw his hat into the ring for the Kentucky Derby when Wicked Strong won the G1 Wood Memorial (1800m) at Aqueduct on Saturday.

Wicked Strong (3c Hard Spun — Moyne Abbey by Charismatic) uncorked a terrific late kick blowing past Social Inclusion and Samraat to win by a widening three and a half lengths.  He stamped his ticket for the Kentucky Derby on May 3 by earning 100 qualifying points for his first stakes victory.

Wicked Strong showed good form in New York late last year recording a two-length maiden win at Belmont Park and a fast-closing third in the G2 Remsen at Aqueduct but was never a serious factor in a pair of unplaced finishes at Gulfstream Park this year.

“He fell into a nice groove early and he finished up really strong,” winning jockey Rajiv Maragh said.  “To me, he’s the Derby favourite right now — in my book, anyway.  He showed that more distance is going to be better for him.”

Bred in Kentucky, Wicked Strong is owned by Massachusetts-based Don Little of Centennial Farms.  He made $375,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale and is from a daughter of 1999 Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkins said Wicked Strong will do the majority of his Kentucky Derby training at Belmont Park before flying to Louisville on the Monday prior to the Run for the Roses on May 3.

Jerkens is a son of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens who won the 1992 Wood Memorial with Devil His Due.

Hard Spun (Danzig) has been a regular shuttler to Darley’s Northwood Park operation at Seymour and covered 115 mares there last year.  He was runner-up to Street Sense in the 2007 Kentucky Derby and has now sired 28 stakes winners.

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