Wicked Halo parlayed a ground-saving stalking trip behind a hot, contested pace into success in Friday’s $250,000 Prioress S. (G2), a six-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies at Saratoga.
Breaking from post 1 under Tyler Gaffalione, Wicked Halo settled in midpack down the backside as 2-1 favorite Hot Peppers sped the opening quarter-mile in :21.94. Advancing to fourth on the far turn as pressure on Hot Peppers was applied by Union Lake through a half-mile in :44.99, Wicked Halo made a five-wide rally turning for home and steadily wore down her rivals en route to taking the lead inside the final furlong.
The winning margin for Wicked Halo was a neck after 37-1 outsider Sterling Silver, also benefitting from the early fractions, rallied belatedly. Union Lake weakened to third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Sterling Silver, and was followed by Hot Peppers, Half is Enough, Angitude, Mischievous Diane, and Lady Scarlet.
Wicked Halo completed the course in 1:10.16 over a fast track and paid $10.80. She is owned by Ron Winchell and trained by Steve Asmussen, who last weekend took Saratoga’s signature event, the Travers (G1), with Epicenter.
The Prioress was the third consecutive stakes win for Wicked Halo, who earlier this summer captured the Leslie’s Lady S. and Tepin S., both at Churchill Downs. She was third in her first two outings of the season in the Dixie Belle S. and Purple Martin S. at Oaklawn.
“We were a little off track early [in the year]. She’s very laid back and it took her a few races to get sharp, but I think when we got back to Churchill, she dialed it up,” Asmussen said. “Her last three runs were really solid. We did plan on running in the Test (G1), but she had a little bit of a hind foot thing.”
A winner on debut at Lone Star in June 2021, Wicked Halo next finished third in the Debutante S. at Churchill before taking the Adirondack (G2) at Saratoga by 3 1/2 lengths in her juvenile finale. The gray has now bankrolled $574,050, and is likely headed to the seven-furlong Dogwood (G3) at Churchill on Sept. 24, according to Asmussen.
By Gun Runner, Wicked Halo was bred in Kentucky by Winchell and was produced by the Tapit mare Just Wicked, an Adirondack-winning full sister to Grade 2 heroine My Miss Lilly.