NEW ORLEANS, LA – Fern Circle Stables’ Stronger Than Ever came out victorious after an epic stretch battle with Wonder Gadot, springing the upset to take Saturday’s $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Off well enough under Florent Geroux, Stronger Than Ever took back to the rear and saved ground while Shes Our Fastest led through initial fractions of :23.57 and :47.43. Stronger Than Ever made her move heading into the far turn, and by the top of the stretch, had already corraled Wonder Gadot and taken command. The two locked in for a battle that lasted the entire front stretch, with both fillies digging in and fighting hard. Stronger Than Ever prevailed at the line by a neck in a final time of 1:44.28 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“The trip was not great, actually,” Geroux said. “My filly fought very hard all the way to the wire. (Wonder Gadot) gave my filly a run for her money. The distance wasn’t an issue and she showed that she can race pretty well. There was a very honest pace up front and I think that my filly is pretty nice.”
Sent forward as the even-money favorite, Wonder Gadot was 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Missive in third. Blonde Bomber took fourth over Heavenly Love, with Terra’s Angel, America’s Tale, and Shes Our Fastest completing the order of finish. Noblame, Remember Daisy, Saguaro Row, and Stellar Moon were scratched.
The Silverbulletday is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Stronger Than Ever earned 10 points for the win, with Wonder Gadot receiving 4 for second, Show 2 for third, and Super 1 for fourth.
The win improved Stronger Than Ever’s record to 5-3-0-1, with the Kenny McPeek trainee’s lone off-the-board performance coming in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 25. The daughter of Congrats increased her career earnings to $174,846 and appears ready for more on the Kentucky Oaks trail.
“She did everything like she was supposed to do,” said McPeek’s assistant trainer Greg Geier. “Hopefully, we can go from here. I thought she would run well, especially with the pace that was in the race, and we just let them sit there and wait and make one big run. She ran a good race at Remington (last out), she stuck wide out there and got a little tired, but she did fine today. We’ll see what Kenny wants to do (for her next start).”
Stronger Than Ever returned $68.40 to win, $12.20 to place, and $6.40 to show. Wonder Gadot brought back $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show, while Missive paid $6.60 to show.