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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred Wicked Halo challenged Microbiome’s early speed, went to the front, and had plenty in reserve to draw away for a convincing 3 1/2-length victory in Sunday’s $200,000 Adirondack (G2) for 2-year-old fillies sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga Race Course.
Wicked Halo, a debut winner in June at Lone Star before finishing third last out in her stakes bow in the Debutante 3 weeks later at Churchill Downs, captured the 105th edition of the Adirondack to be victorious in a prestigious stakes that her dam, Just Wicked, won in 2015.
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Out of the gate, Microbiome broke alertly from the outermost post 9 with Tyler Gaffalione aboard, prompting Wicked Halo – under jockey Jose Ortiz – to pursue the early speed. Wicked Halo got ahead of Microbiome for a quick opening 1/4-mile in 21.55 seconds and maintained that advantage with the 1/2 in 44.80 on a fast track.
Wicked Halo gained additional separation in the stretch, powering to the wire in a final time of 1:17.99 to outkick runner-up Interstatedaydream.
A day after setting the all-time wins record for a trainer, Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen added to that total with his fourth Adirondack score and second in a row following Thoughtfully’s 2020 effort.
“That’s Saratoga tough,” Asmussen said. “The filly on the outside outbroke her a little bit. They ride aggressively here and horses either respond or get beat and she responded. For a 2-year-old filly, and the way she acted in the paddock off hard races, it’s a level of class that is hard to come by.”
Asmussen, who also trained Wicked Halo’s sire in 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner in addition to Just Wicked, has found additional success with familiar bloodlines.
“Ron (Winchell, owner-breeder) giving us horses like this makes all the accolades possible,” Asmussen said. “This filly, her mother won the Adirondack, and what a great sire Gun Runner is proving to be. To duplicate what her mother did is very special.”
Ortiz, who won the $120,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose in the prior race, said he was prepared for fast fractions.
“In these 2-year-old stakes races, there’s going to be pace because a lot of them break their maiden wire to wire or are just sitting off it,” Ortiz said. “A lot of times, the pace is going to be hot in races like this, and it was hot this time. Tyler broke better than me. I put her up there and she responded well. They were going fast, but she was ready. Steve had her ready to run.”
Off at 9/2, Wicked Halo returned $11.40 on a $2 win wager. She more than tripled her career earnings to $144,650. Asmussen said he might be inclined to skip the $300,00 Spinaway (G1) for juvenile fillies going 7 furlongs on September 5 at Saratoga and point to a spot later in the fall campaign.
“I think we may give her a break,” Asmussen said. “I got overly aggressive with the mother, and being fortunate to have the family continuously, you need to learn from it.”
Interstatedaydream, ridden by Luis Saez and trained by Brad Cox, rallied up the rail to best Saucy Lady T for second by a 1/2-length. The Classic Empire filly had won her debut on June 25 at Belmont and was stepping up to stakes company for the first time.
“She tried,” Saez said. “She broke from there well and ran pretty well. I’m really happy with how she ran.”
Mainstay, Microbiome, Ontheonesandtwos, J L’s Rockette, Shesawildjoker, and Boss Lady Kim completed the order of finish.
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