By Anthony Affrunti —-
Wonder Gadot returns to victory in G2 Demoiselle
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Gary Barber’s Wonder Gadot benefitted from a patient ride under Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez to win the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle by 3 ¾ lengths in 1:53.91 for the 1 1/8 miles on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Upon the break, the field chased Daisy, who was sent out to the lead by Kendrick Carmouche, while Wonder Gadot was allowed to trail closely for second. Held Accountable and Maurer Power remained close behind as the opening quarter was set at 24.47 seconds, and the half was run in 50.28. Daisy, the winner of the Grade 3 Tempted, and one of two undefeated John Servis-trained runners shipped in for the race, was allowed to run off with three quarters timed in 1:16.24, while her stablemate Maurer Power began to move from fourth.
Turning for home, Carmouche cut the corner aboard Daisy, and asked for more while Wonder Gadot, sitting at the perfect spot, was angled out for run to her outside. Maurer Power sat behind, and needed room, and finally got it, but missed her opportunity to catch Wonder Gadot who, after a mile in 1:4150, drew away to the wire. Maurer Power got up for second under Irad Ortiz, Jr., to secure place while Layla Noor closed under Manuel Franco to score third.
The victory was the third from five starts for the Mark Casse-trained daughter by Medaglia d’Oro, and the second graded stakes win since her six length front-running romp over three others in the Grade 3 Mazarine on October 7 at Woodbine.
“Yeah, that was the plan going into it,” said Casse’s assistant trainer, Jamie Begg. “Kind of sit off of it but be a little closer than she was in the last race. And the fractions worked beautifully in our favor. Johnny [Velazquez] said he was just waiting there to make his move. I was pretty happy with the way it worked out because a few of the races here have been going pretty quick up front and the speed is holding.”
The tactical plan worked perfectly according to Velazquez, who was aboard the filly for the first time.
“I was talking to the trainers about staying closer to the speed,” Velazquez said. “We were hoping she would be comfortable and I was happy where she put me. When I came down, I switched leads, and she was going very comfortable and got away from the horses pretty easily. She has a beautiful stride. I was very happy with the way she did it.”
The Demoiselle was Wonder Gadot’s fifth career start, and second in the country after she finished sixth in a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar. Off her worst race this far, the Casse barn’s planning, like her race tactic, proved to put her in the winners’ circle in the Demoiselle.
“Mark was smart.” Begg said. “He sent her straight back to the farm from California [after the Breeders’ Cup] and they were pondering what to do with her. So they sent her back to the farm, and I think that lay back kind of helped her a little bit. It was easier to climatize her, bring her to the East coast before, instead of just shipping her straight into Aqueduct.”
For Parx-based trainer John Servis, the Demoiselle offered mixed emotions as Maurer Power finished second while Daisy, the second choice on the morning-line finished fourth.
“I was disappointed with Daisy’s effort,” Servis said. “He [Carmouche] said she was a little flat going into the far turn and just got off the bit a little bit. We’re going to give her a little freshening after this, get her ready for her 3-year-old campaign and see how she does.
“I just think that it was a little quick back off that effort [in the Grade 3 Tempted on November 3] to go a mile and an eighth. Mr. [Rick] Porter [of Fox Hill Farms] and I talked and we had decided that we were going to shut her down after this and give her a few weeks off to freshen her for next year.
“The other filly [Maurer Power], I was very happy with her,” he added. “Irad loved her. He wants to ride her back. I think she’s progressing nicely. I think both of them are going to be really nice fillies for us.
“She had some time off after her first race, which really moved her forward. She blossomed off of that. So, she’ll be on her way to Florida and we’ll train her in the better weather and see how she keeps progressing.”
As part of the 30-race series known as the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, the Demoiselle awards Wonder Gadot with 10 points, and adds her to a five-way tie for fourth among the leaderboard for a berth in the starting gate for the $1 million, 1 1/8 mile Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 4, 2018.
Wonder Gadot paid $5.20 on a $2 win bet.
By Brain Bohl —-
Catholic Boy finds atonement in switch to dirt to win G2 Remsen
Robert LaPenta’s Catholic Boy registered an impressive win in his dirt debut, gaining the lead at the top of the stretch and outkicking 2-1 favorite Avery Island to win the 104th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen for 2-year-olds on Saturday, Cigar Mile Day, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on November 3 at Del Mar, trainer Jonathan Thomas switched Catholic Boy to the dirt and stretched him out to 1 1/8 miles. The More Than Ready colt responded well, staying off the pacesetters as Bandito led the field of 10 through a quarter-mile in 23.98 seconds and the half in 48.97.
Out of the final turn, Catholic Boy surged from the outside and drew clear under jockey Manny Franco’s drive, winning by 4 ¾ lengths, hitting the wire in 1:52.50 on a main track labeled fast.
“I just followed the instructions,” said Franco, who notched his first career Remsen win. “The trainer told me to break out of there running and to try and get some position early on into the first turn. The horse put me in a good position and when I called on him to run he just went.”
Catholic Boy won his first two starts, breaking his maiden on July 20 at Gulfstream Park and registering his first graded stakes victory in the Grade 3 With Anticipation on August 30 at Saratoga Race Course before his Breeders’ Cup start. Thomas, a former assistant to Todd Pletcher, said he wanted to try Catholic Boy on the dirt, and the move resulted in the trainer’s first career graded stakes win.
“Early on he was a turf horse only because there weren’t many route races on the dirt,” Thomas said. “It was kind of a default sort of thing and he actually breezed fine on the turf so now we have a lot of thinking to do. The key to him as that if he gets a route of ground. Obviously, this time of year our preference would be to have a dirt horse this time of year. I think we definitely have to consider his next start being a dirt race for sure and kind of see where he takes us.”
Off at 4-1, Catholic Boy paid $10.20 on a $2 win wager. The Kentucky bred has won three of his first four starts and nearly doubled his career earnings to $314,000.
“We were really happy with how he exited the Breeders’ Cup and to us he galloped out very well in that race and indicated that he wanted more ground,” Thomas said. “The day after that race he was very lively and looked like he exited well so knowing that he would get the trip and that there was a direct flight here, we brought him here and were able to get two nice works into him on the dirt [at Belmont Park training track] and he did that well. We came over here quietly confident that he would show us a little something, but we never expected that.”
Godolphin’s Avery Island, who was coming off a win in the Grade 2 Nashua on November 5 at the Big A, rallied for second under jockey Joe Bravo. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time and responded by finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of Vouch for runner-up status in his first two-turn race.
“I think Joe felt like he [Avery Island] learned a lot today. Obviously, you want to win but sometimes you make a step forward just from learning,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin USA. “He was down on the inside, got dirt in his face, and he took it all well. Certainly, the horse that won has some credentials on his own.
“He’s a big colt, he’s still learning. But from the standpoint of ‘did you take a step forward?’ I think he probably did. It doesn’t always come in a winning race, but he grew up some today. Those were all positive signs.”
Vouch, Alkhaatam, Tap Rap Strike, Biblical, Millionaire Runner, Triple Dog Dare, V. I. P. Code and Bandito completed the order of finish.
By Najja Thompson —-
Indulgent unrelenting in G3 Go For Wand
Making her fifth start at Aqueduct Racetrack, Godolphin Racing’s Indulgent continued to show her affinity for the Big A, picking up her third win on the surface and first graded stakes victory while capturing the 78th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Go For Wand for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up on Saturday.
Breaking alertly from post 7 with Luis Saez aboard at odds of 12-1, Indulgent remained comfortably in second in the three-path as Lucy N Ethel lead the field of seven through fractions of 23.52 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and the half in 46.82.
At the quarter-pole, Indulgent made her winning move to the front. Surpassing Lucy N Ethel at the eighth-pole, she held of a very game Highway Star to secure the victory by a length.
She completed the one-mile distance in 1:37.75.
“Last time she ran so hard, [but] the only issue was the rail,” said Saez was aboard Indulgent in the Pumpkin Pie at Aqueduct on November 5th in which she ran second. “Last time, the rail was heavy and she broke from the inside and we couldn’t get out and that hurt a little bit. Today, she got an outside post and she broke pretty well. We came to the straight, I asked her and she took off.”
Returning $27.40 for a $2 win wager, the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Bernardini filly is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Frosted. The Go For Wand victory boosted her career earnings to $342,117.
“It’s very special,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin USA. “As I’m sure everybody figured out quickly, she has a more famous older brother and to have that filly and the family continue on with her being a graded stakes winner makes a big difference. “I talked to Luis [Saez], and he said she broke very kindly and was right there with him. She settled nicely and responded It was one of those picture-perfect trips. She stayed out in a good position in a good part of the track and came home fastest of all.
“To put a graded victory under her name is very, very important,” added Bell. It’s great for Sheik Mohammad’s breeding to carry on this great family that’s been so good to us with Frosted, obviously, Midshipman and some others. This should make her a very welcome addition to the breeding operation. “I think we’ll just take this a step at a time. I don’t know if this is her last race, but this is her most important race.”
Behind Highway Star in second was a late-closing Verve’s Tale followed by Going for Broke, Lucy N Ethel, Flora Dora and Jamyson ‘n Ginger.
Cover Photo: Wonder Gadot; Chelsea Durand Photo