Brooklyn Strong
Brooklyn Strong won the Remsen at Grade 2 Aqueduct. Photo by Susie Raisher/NYRA.

The Parx Racing-based Brooklyn Strong may be spending some time in Maryland in the next several weeks.

Brooklyn Strong was fifth in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial April 3. That was the three-year-old Wicked Strong gelding’s first start in nearly five months, but it looks like his near-term dance card is filling up.

Trainer Daniel Velazquez said Brooklyn Strong came out of his fifth-place effort in last Saturday’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino in good order.

Owned by Mark Schwartz and bred in the Empire State by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan, the Wicked Strong gelding entered the nine-furlong Wood Memorial from a neck score in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Remsen on December 5 at the Big A.

Brooklyn Strong also won the Sleepy Hollow Stakes at Aqueduct October 24. That was the second career stakes win for Velazquez, his first having come about 30 minutes earlier on that same card.

“He came out of the Wood really good. It was a good tightener for him and a learning curve for me,” said Velazquez. “I went in there 100 percent believing in my horse but at the end of the day, going into those big races you need a big race. My horse showed up and he showed me that he belongs there. He was beat less than five lengths off a long layoff. He impressed me.”

Velazquez said Brooklyn Strong could target the nine-furlong $125,000 Federico Tesio on April 24 at Laurel Park as a stepping stone towards the Grade 1 Preakness, second leg of the Triple Crown, slated for May 15 at Pimlico Race Course.

“I think we’re going to try the Preakness,” said Velazquez. “We’ll look at the Tesio as a target race for him and to keep him fit.”

Velazquez said Brooklyn Strong had a difficult trip in the Wood Memorial but showed heart to finish 4 3/4-lengths back of longshot winner Bourbonic.

“I’ve watched the replay a dozen times and he never really got a break down the back side,” said Velazquez. “He was steadied behind traffic and that takes energy. When he finally found a hole he got banged around again. The mile-and-an-eighth was a little hard on him off the layoff.”

Brooklyn Strong, a $5,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, captured the Sleepy Hollow in October 2020 at Belmont just one race following Laobanonprayer’s Maid of the Mist win on a memorable Empire Showcase Day card for the young conditioner.

“I’ve been nothing but lucky since I got these New York-breds. I’ll go down to the Ocala at the end of the month and hopefully find a couple more superstars,” he said, with a laugh.