For the fourth consecutive year, a 2-year-old filly trained by Mark Casse has been named a Sovereign Award winner in her division.
Wonder Gadot joined Victory to Victory, Catch a Glimpse and Conquest Harlanate as Casse’s recent 2-year-old filly champions with her 2017 campaign that saw her record two graded stakes victories. Wonder Gadot was named 2017 champion 2-year-old filly over Dream It Is and Dixie Moon.
Bred by Anderson Farms Ontario, Inc., Wonder Gadot was purchased by Casse and owner Gary Barber for $325,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April 2017 2-year-olds in training sale. She trained over the summer with Casse’s string at Saratoga, but Casse felt that Wonder Gadot would prefer longer distances and she was sent to Woodbine to make her career debut.
“The problem with Saratoga is they run a bunch of short sprints on the dirt, and I knew that would not suit her at all,” Casse said. “She’s a big, long-striding filly that needs some ground. If you ever watch her run, she gallops out like crazy. One thing I love about Woodbine is they start running some longer races a little earlier than some places, which is nice.”
Casse was expecting big things from Wonder Gadot ahead of her debut, and the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro did not disappoint. Instead of running in a maiden race, Wonder Gadot debuted in the seven-furlong prep for the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes on turf, a race she won by four lengths. She followed that effort up with a strong run in the Natalma, but finished third behind Capla Temptress and Dixie Moon.
Following the Natalma, Casse opted to change course. Instead of continuing on the turf, Wonder Gadot made her next start on Tapeta, resulting in a six-length win in the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes, her first career graded stakes score. From there, she was pointed to Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar. The Breeders’ Cup marked Wonder Gadot’s first race on dirt, but she ran a respectable sixth after encountering some trouble in the stretch.
“I was proud of her,” Casse said following Wonder Gadot’s effort in the Breeders’ Cup. “Those are the best fillies in North America. I think given a little better trip we could have been third. She likes the dirt and the farther the better.”
Casse’s assessment of Wonder Gadot’s dirt form has held true so far. Following her start in the Breeders’ Cup, Wonder Gadot went on to win the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct to cap her 2-year-old campaign. She’s continued training through the winter, running strong races in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes in the lead up to the Kentucky Oaks.
At press time, Wonder Gadot was slated to make her next start in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on the first Friday in May at Churchill Downs, but the connections also have big goals back at Woodbine, including a potential start in the $1 million Queen’s Plate in June