December 7, 2022

Gulfport, Wonder Wheel dominate juvenile features at Churchill

Gulfport wins the 2022 Bashford Manor (Coady Photography)

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is well known for showcasing precocious juveniles. Gulfport, who gave the trainer a seventh career win in the $173,000 Bashford Manor S. at Churchill Downs on Monday, might turn out to be one of his best.

Breaking sharply from post 1 in the six-furlong Bashford Manor, Gulfport shook off an early challenge from Simply Super and coasted home to a 12 1/4-length win under Brian Hernandez Jr. Over a fast track, Gulfport set fractions of :21.65 and :45.07, and then stopped the clock in 1:09.25 as the 1-5 favorite in a field of six.

It was the second fastest Bashford Manor in its six-furlong incarnation. The current stakes record of 1:09.15 was set in 2007 by the Asmussen-trained Kodiak Kowboy, a future champion sprinter.

“I think that was something very special. He really did all of that on his own,” Hernandez said.

Finishing second in the Bashford Manor was Owen’s Leap, who nosed out Andthewinneris. There was a big gap back to Simply Super, Stayhonor Goodside, and Mr. Gordy.

A winner on debut June 10 at Churchill by seven lengths going five furlongs, Gulfport ($2.40) races for William and Corrine Heiligbrodt, Jackpot Farm, and Whispering Oaks Farm.

Bred in Kentucky by Diamond Creek Farm, Gulfport sold for $275,00 at the Fasig-Tipton July sale. By Uncle Mo, Gulfport was produced by Fame and Fortune, an Unbridled’s Song full sister to Whitney (G1) winner Cross Traffic. Both were reared by the multiple Grade 1-winning Stop Traffic.

Debutante S.

Early speed did very well, too, in the $167,500 Debutante S. for juvenile fillies. Leading wire-to-wire in the six-furlong test was Wonder Wheel, who crossed the finish 6 3/4 lengths in front under Tyler Gaffalione.

The 9-5 second choice in a field of seven, Wonder Wheel set fractions that were slightly faster than those in the Bashford Manor — :21.52 and :45.05 — but finished up a second slower in 1:10.26. Owned by D. J. Stable, Wonder Wheel returned $5.60.

“She’s very big. She’s got a lot more filling out to do, and we certainly hope the best is yet to come,” said David Carroll, assistant to trainer Mark Casse.

Sabra Tuff finished second in the Debutante, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Les Bon Temps. Empire of My Own, the 17-10 favorite, finished fourth and was followed by Eyes of Gold, Frango Electrico, and Crackalacking.

Wonder Wheel is now 2-for-2, having won at first asking by 2 1/4 lengths at Churchill on June 3 going 5 1/2 furlongs.

Bred in Kentucky by Three Chimneys Farm and Clearsky Farms, Wonder Wheel sold for $275,000 at Keeneland September. By Into Mischief, she is out of Wonder Gal, a multiple stakes-winning daughter of Tiz Wonderful who placed four times at Grade 1 level. Also hailing from this family is Belmont Derby (G1) winner Force the Pass.

Hanshin S.

Cody’s Wish repelled longshot Three Technique after a prolonged duel in the $173,250 Hanshin S., a one-mile event for older horses formerly held at Arlington.

The 7-10 favorite for Godolphin and trainer Bill Mott, Cody’s Wish won by a neck to a clinch a second consecutive stakes victory and fifth win from his last six starts. The four-year-old Curlin colt was exiting a five-length triumph in the Westchester (G3) at Belmont Park on May 7.

Cody’s Wish completed the course in 1:34.10 and paid $3.40. Three Technique finished four lengths in front of Awesome Gerry, who was followed by Weyburn, Plainsman, and Mish.

A Kentucky-bred produced by Grade 1 heroine Dance Card, by Tapit, Cody’s Wish now sports a record of 9-5-1-3. He finished second by a neck to Scalding in his stakes debut, the March 12 Challenger (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.