Wonder Gadot returns to victory in G2 Demoiselle
by Anthony Affrunti
Gary Barber's Wonder Gadot benefitted from a patient ride under Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez to win the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle by 3 ¾ lengths in 1:53.91 for the 1 1/8 miles on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Upon the break, the field chased Daisy, who was sent out to the lead by Kendrick Carmouche, while Wonder Gadot was allowed to trail closely for second. Held Accountable and Maurer Power remained close behind as the opening quarter was set at 24.47 seconds, and the half was run in 50.28. Daisy, the winner of the Grade 3 Tempted, and one of two undefeated John Servis-trained runners shipped in for the race, was allowed to run off with three quarters timed in 1:16.24, while her stablemate Maurer Power began to move from fourth.
Turning for home, Carmouche cut the corner aboard Daisy, and asked for more while Wonder Gadot, sitting at the perfect spot, was angled out for run to her outside. Maurer Power sat behind, and needed room, and finally got it, but missed her opportunity to catch Wonder Gadot who, after a mile in 1:41.50, drew away to the wire. Maurer Power got up for second under Irad Ortiz, Jr., to secure place while Layla Noor closed under Manuel Franco to score third.
The victory was the third from five starts for the Mark Casse-trained daughter by Medaglia d'Oro, and the second graded stakes win since her six length front-running romp over three others in the Grade 3 Mazarine on October 7 at Woodbine.
"Yeah, that was the plan going into it," said Casse's assistant trainer, Jamie Begg. "Kind of sit off of it but be a little closer than she was in the last race. And the fractions worked beautifully in our favor. Johnny [Velazquez] said he was just waiting there to make his move. I was pretty happy with the way it worked out because a few of the races here have been going pretty quick up front and the speed is holding."
The tactical plan worked perfectly according to Velazquez, who was aboard the filly for the first time.
"I was talking to the trainers about staying closer to the speed," Velazquez said. "We were hoping she would be comfortable and I was happy where she put me. When I came down, I switched leads, and she was going very comfortable and got away from the horses pretty easily. She has a beautiful stride. I was very happy with the way she did it."
The Demoiselle was Wonder Gadot's fifth career start, and second in the country after she finished sixth in a troubled trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar. Off her worst race this far, the Casse barn's planning, like her race tactic, proved to put her in the winners' circle in the Demoiselle.
"Mark was smart." Begg said. "He sent her straight back to the farm from California [after the Breeders' Cup] and they were pondering what to do with her. So they sent her back to the farm, and I think that lay back kind of helped her a little bit. It was easier to climatize her, bring her to the East coast before, instead of just shipping her straight into Aqueduct."
For Parx-based trainer John Servis, the Demoiselle offered mixed emotions as Maurer Power finished second while Daisy, the second choice on the morning-line finished fourth.
"I was disappointed with Daisy's effort," Servis said. "He [Carmouche] said she was a little flat going into the far turn and just got off the bit a little bit. We're going to give her a little freshening after this, get her ready for her 3-year-old campaign and see how she does.
"I just think that it was a little quick back off that effort [in the Grade 3 Tempted on November 3] to go a mile and an eighth. Mr. [Rick] Porter [of Fox Hill Farms] and I talked and we had decided that we were going to shut her down after this and give her a few weeks off to freshen her for next year.
"The other filly [Maurer Power], I was very happy with her," he added. "Irad loved her. He wants to ride her back. I think she's progressing nicely. I think both of them are going to be really nice fillies for us.
"She had some time off after her first race, which really moved her forward. She blossomed off of that. So, she'll be on her way to Florida and we'll train her in the better weather and see how she keeps progressing."
As part of the 30-race series known as the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, the Demoiselle awards Wonder Gadot with 10 points, and adds her to a five-way tie for fourth among the leaderboard for a berth in the starting gate for the $1 million, 1 1/8 mile Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 4, 2018.
Wonder Gadot paid $5.20 on a $2 win bet.