Gary Barber’s Wonder Gadot drew the second post position in a field of 11 gathered for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. The filly exited her final breeze in good order and will be ridden by IRAD ORTIZ.
A decision by Barber regarding the riding assignment for Wonder Gadot in the Travers came Monday. Casse mentioned Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Florent Geroux, and Tyler Gaffalione as possibilities for the call but when Hofburg scratched and Ortiz, the leading rider at Saratoga became available, the decision was made.
Jockey John Velazquez, who has ridden Wonder Gadot in some of her biggest races, will be aboard Vinno Rosso in the Mid-Summer Derby, trained by Todd Pletcher for St. Elias Stables and Repole Stable.
“She’s a sweetie about everything, but she does have a lot of energy,” Casse said of Wonder Gadot’s racing style. “You kind of always have to slow her down.”
The 3-year-old filly by Medaglia d’Oro enjoyed an easy Sunday morning, her second walk day since breezing a four-furlong bullet in 47.60 seconds on Friday.
“She’s been very good. All is well,” said Casse. “We gave her today off – she just went around the shedrow – and she’ll go back tomorrow.”
Bred in Ontario, Wonder Gadot won the first two legs of Canada’s Triple Crown in dominating fashion over males this summer, but her connections opted to skip the third leg and target the Travers instead, where she will be the first filly since Davona Dale in 1979 to contest the Mid-Summer Derby. Davona Dale, named champion 3-year-old filly and later inducted in the Hall of Fame, finished fourth as the favorite that year.
Seven fillies have won the Travers in its 148-year history with the last being Lady Rotha, who was elevated to victory via disqualification in 1915.
Also, despite Wonder Gadot’s redirection to the Travers, Casse still won his own Triple Crown on Saturday, with Chiefswood Stable’s Neepawa pulling away to a 3 ½-length victory in the in the Breeders’ Stakes over the turf at Woodbine.
“That was really nice, because I felt some mixed emotions [about sending Wonder Gadot to the Travers],” said Casse. “I felt a little bad that I could be letting Woodbine down and letting Canada down, so it was nice to win with that colt. Plus, the owners, Chiefswood, are just a super operation. So now, I’m happy that we’re here and we’re able to represent Woodbine with Wonder Gadot.”
1. Trigger Warning, 30-1
2. Wonder Gadot, 5-1
3. Gronkowski, 4-1 4.
5. Vino Rosso, 10-1 6.
7. King Zachary, 15-1
8. Mendelssohn, 12-1
9. Good Magic, 2-1
10. Tenfold, 8-1
Catholic Boy, 8-1