Wicked Title, trained and part-owned by Chad Summers, will make a third attempt at her turf debut in the Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf tilt slated for Sunday, September 29 at Belmont.
The Wicked Strong chestnut, out of the Curlin mare Shesacurlinmytoes, was purchased for $25,000 at the April OBS and Summers said he initially expected the filly to thrive at a distance of ground on dirt.
“We thought she would be a two-turn dirt horse and when we started training her, she looked like a turf horse,” said Summers. “We galloped her a few times on the inner turf at Belmont and she really liked the grass.”
After a series of good works, Summers entered Wicked Title in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden allowance auction series turf sprint on July 31 at Saratoga, an open juvenile race, restricted to horses that went through the ring for $45,000 or less at their most recent auction, carrying a purse $75,000.
Unfortunately, the race was rained off the turf and contested on the fast main track where Wicked Title endured a troubled trip en route to finishing eighth.
“She was bumped real hard a couple times coming out of the gate, but she made a middle move and then flattened out,” said Summers. “Still, we liked what we saw from her. There's not many times you'll finish eighth, beaten 18 lengths, that you'd think it was a good race, but it was.”
Wicked Title breezed again on the Saratoga turf on August 16 and Summers entered her into a grassy seven furlong maiden allowance sprint. Once again, the race was rained onto the fast main track, but this time, with Joel Rosario up, Wicked Title made the lead and held on strong to earn a nose win.
“I think she showed a lot of grit that day,” said Summers. “She broke good and had the lead and was passed by a couple of nice horses and came back and beat them. She showed a lot of heart. I know the final time wasn't awe inspiring, but she ran well.”
Wicked Title has continued to train well out of her maiden win, including a September 8 breeze on the Belmont turf in 50.85 seconds and Summers said he considered both the Miss Grillo and the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron at six furlongs on October 6 for the filly's turf debut.
“Given how she's acted on the grass, we really wanted to give her this opportunity and with her pedigree we think the distance won't be a problem,” said Summers. “We circled the Miss Grillo as a possibility after she worked so well with Hawkish, for Jimmy Toner, on the grass a couple weeks ago.”
A probable Miss Grillo field include the first and third-place finishers from the P.G. Johnson in Crystalle and English Breeze, as well as the impressive maiden winner Sparkling Sky, but Summers said his filly deserves an opportunity.
“Obviously, Crystalle is a really nice horse and the horse to beat,” said Summers. “We might have to make up six or seven lengths, but we think she's doing well enough to warrant a chance”
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