Wonder filly WONDER GADOT returned to the worktab on Friday, breezing a half-mile over the fast main track to ready for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on August 25 at Saratoga. It was the filly’s first move since capturing the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the July 24 Prince of Wales Stakes.
With exercise rider Chris Garraway aboard, the Mark Casse-trained sophomore clocked four furlongs in :48.07. The pair took to the track just after it opened at 5:30 a.m. (ET), posting an opening quarter-mile in :24.20 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:01 and three-quarters in 1:14.40.
“She worked…wonderful,” Casse said of the filly nicknamed ‘Wonder Woman.’ “It was how she did it. She got away a little slow. Chris had never breezed her before but we radioed him and told him to pick it up a little bit and as soon as he asked her, she took off. Then we called back and told him to slow her down.
“We were aiming for :48, and then he dropped her head a little bit and she took off again. She got over it really well. Her first work back we didn’t want her to do too much. That was as fancy as it gets. I would give it an A-plus work.”
Wonder Gadot is attempting to become the first filly to win the Travers since Lady Rotha in 1915. Hall of Famer Davona Dale was the last filly to try the feat, finishing fourth as the favorite in 1979.
“I’ve been coming here since I was like seven-years old,” Casse said. “When I first thought about it and (owner) Gary (Barber) and I talked about it…we didn’t think about how much excitement it would bring, but it’s bringing that and I think it will continue to build which is just great. I love that.”
Wonder Gadot is no stranger to beating the boys. The dark bay daughter of Medaglia d’Oro romped by 4 3/4 lengths in the Queen’s Plate Stakes, the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, prior to her 5 3/4-length wire job in the Prince of Wales most recently. The Canadian champion just missed by a half-length in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and a head in the Woodbine Oaks in her last two runs against fillies.
Wonder Gadot was originally scheduled to run in the August 18 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga back against the girls, but the retirement of Triple Crown hero Justify compelled her connections to take a different path.
“We’re running in there because, one, we’ve had great success running our fillies against colts,” Casse explained, “and when I looked at the numbers and everything and the fact that she’s already beaten colts, I think we have a legitimate chance. I’m not in there for the show. I think we’ve got a big shot to win. I think that’s the consensus. We’re definitely not hunting bear with a switch.
“I would never want to let her down,” he added. “I am about as confident as you can be in horse racing. I am just confident when the dust clears, she is going to be part of the equation. We talked about it, and take nothing away from the Alabama, if she were to have won the Alabama – it’s one of the greatest races in North America – bit if she were to win the Travers, they will know about her around the world. If (she) wins the Travers, she will be remembered forever.”
Casse is keeping his star filly on her regular work schedule heading into the Mid-Summer Derby.
“She’s in a nice pattern so she doesn’t have to do anything different,” Casse said. “She has a pattern that she’s lived by, and we won’t change anything. You’ll see her have a similar type work probably next Friday.”
In other Travers news, TENFOLD is expected to work at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning for the Travers, according to assistant trainer Scott Blasi. It’ll be the first move by the Curlin colt since earning his first stakes score in the July 28 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) over the track. Regular jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. is expected to be aboard for the work.
CATHOLIC BOY exited his Monday bullet breeze in good order, trainer Jonathan Thomas said. The Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) winner clocked five-eighths in :59.66 over fast main track at Saratoga, best of 51 other moves at that distance on the day, with jockey Javier Castellano holding the reins.
“He came out of his last work really well,” Thomas said. “We’re happy with what he did out here on the main track. Everything is in play at the moment, we’re just taking it week by week.”
The More Than Ready ridgling has competed on the main track in three of his eight lifetime starts. He captured the Remsen Stakes (G2) to close out his juvenile campaign, ran second by a half-length to kick off 2018 and finished fourth in the Florida Derby (G1) in his last effort on dirt.
Since that March 31 contest, in which it was discovered he bled, Catholic Boy has added the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) and Belmont Derby Invitational to his resume on Belmont Park’s turf.
“Obviously we have two more opportunities to breeze him on the main track and see if through a body or work, two more works on the main track, would give us any indication,” Thomas said. “Javier seemed to be really thrilled with how he breezed the other day, so that gave me a lot of confidence.
“Every time we put a bridle on him, he’s tried, so I don’t see why this (Travers) would be any different,” he added. “There’s also big residual ramifications for being a stallion if we were to get it done. He’s a beautiful colt, so I have a responsibility to try and get him into the stallion barn, and this (Travers) will go a long way.
“I’m lucky to train him and I’m also a fan of him as a horseman because he’s sound, hard-knocking and trying. He’s really accumulated a little fan base, and as a fan he’s just a fun horse to train. It’s a lot of fun being around him. I wouldn’t be opposed to breezing him on the turf once in between, too.”