OZONE PARK, NY – Gary Barber’s Wonder Gadot took the lead at the top of the stretch and drew off convincingly to win Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct.
Off well from post 3 under John Velazquez as the 8-5 favorite, Wonder Gadot ran just off the right hip of early leader Daisy through opening splits of :24.47, :50.28, and 1:16.24. Halfway through the far turn, Wonder Gadot advanced to draw even with the leader, and the pair hit the top of the stretch together in stride. Once she was straightened out, Wonder Gadot kicked clear of her rivals and took off, hitting the wire first by 3 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:53.91 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“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.”
Maurer Power looked ready to unleash at the top of the stretch, but traffic in front didn’t allow her to make a move until nearing the 1/16-pole, at which point Wonder Gadot had already proven much the best. Maurer Power finished second ahead of Layla Noor, with a fading Daisy just beating Held Accountable for fourth. Indy Union, Stakes On a Plane, and Vindictive Ways completed the order of finish.
Sixth last out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her debut over dirt, Wonder Gadot was previously a graded stakes winner over the synthetic surface at her home track of Woodbine. The Mark Casse-trained juvenile daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, a $325,000 auction purchase in April, now has career earnings of $312,973 with a record of 5-3-0-1. The performance stamped Wonder Gadot as a legitimate contender for the 2018 Kentucky Oaks.
“Mark was smart,” said Jamie Begg, Casse’s assistant trainer. “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.”
Wonder Gadot returned $5.20 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Maurer Power brought back $4.90 to place and $4.20 to show, while Layla Noor paid $4.90 to show.