After she was forced to check at the eighth pole in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar, Gary Barber's Wonder Gadot came back with a vengeance this Saturday at Aqueduct. The 2-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro stalked the frontrunner, then exploded down the lane to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Maurer Power. John Velazquez rode the favored Mark Casse trainee, off at odds of 8-5, and Wonder Gadot completed nine furlongs over the fast main track in 1:53.91.
“Mark was smart,” said Jamie Begg, Casse's assistant. “He sent her straight back to the farm from California [after the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies] 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 climatizer her, bring her to the East coast before, instead of just shipping her straight into Aqueduct.”
Wonder Gadot hopped just a bit at the start, but she quickly joined a four-wide rush for the lead approaching the clubhouse turn. Daisy was a bit faster early, and strode out to a 3/4-length lead in a mild :24.47 first quarter. Velazquez kept Wonder Gadot just off her hip, with Held Accountable and Maurer Power moving together behind the two leaders.
Daisy slowed the pace even more to mark the half-mile fraction in :50.28, but Velazquez didn't take the bait and stayed patient aboard Wonder Gadot. Layla Noor began advancing from the rear of the field approaching the far turn, and Maurer Power appeared to have a lot left in the tank while stuck behind rivals at the rail.
Rounding the bend for home, Wonder Gadot inched up alongside the leading Daisy and looked her in the eye. Velazquez showed her the whip and she sprang away with ease, striding away from the pack just as Maurer Power found room to run in the straight. It was too late, however, as Wonder Gadot had gotten the jump on her rivals and flew under the wire at least three lengths to the good.
“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.”
Maurer Power ran well to finish second under Irad Ortiz. Layla Noor had to go the long way around, but she was fighting on valiantly to hold third, and Daisy faded but won a photo finish for fourth.
“We broke from the outside,” said Ortiz of Maurer Power. “We went into the first turn, I was a little wide, so I put myself behind the two live horses. Then, after that, the place slowed down too much. They went too slow, and the winner got the jump on me. We just got beat but the winner is a nice filly.”
Bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms, Wonder Gadot was originally an $80,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase. The filly was pinhooked by Eisaman Equine, and brought $325,000 at the OBS April 2-year-old in training sale. Out of a winning daughter of Vindication, Wonder Gadot broke her maiden on debut at Woodbine, then finished third in the G1 Natalma in just her second career start. Before shipping to Del Mar for the Breeders' Cup, the filly won the G3 Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine.
Overall, Wonder Gadot has won three of her five starts for earnings of over $310,000.
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