‘He’ll Always Be Special To Us’: Russell Mulling Next Start For First Graded Winner Wondrwherecraigis – Horse Racing News

Wondrwherecraigis wins the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park.

Coming off the first graded-stakes win for himself and his trainer, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Michael Caruso’s Wondrwherecraigis is enjoying some down time while the connections mull his next race.

The 4-year-old Munnings gelding was a front-running winner of the seven-furlong Bold Ruler (G3) Oct. 31 at Belmont Park, his second career stakes victory and first in graded company from 10 starts.

Based at Laurel Park with trainer Brittany Russell, Wondrwherecraigis’ triumph came seven weeks following his disqualification to second after finishing first in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) over his home track. It was also one day before Russell gave birth to a son, Rye, her second child with husband and jockey Sheldon Russell. They are also parents to 2-year-old daughter, Edy.

“I was disappointed not to be there, but, hey, we had another big thing going on,” Brittany Russell joked. “It was huge. It was so disappointing for him and the ownership group and everyone to see him disqualified that day. But, he came back and he showed that he is a graded-stakes winner.

“’Craig’ is doing awesome. He hasn’t missed a beat,” she added. “He thinks he’s King Kong.”

Russell said they have yet to settle on a target race for Wondrwherecraigis. Among the options are $100,000 Dave’s Friend, part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, Dec. 26 at Laurel and the Toboggan (G3) Jan. 29 at Aqueduct. Both races are contested at seven furlongs.

“We’re just sort of trying to give him some time now. I wouldn’t say we’re set on anything. There’s a race in New York in January. There’s the MATCH Series race at the end of December. Nothing’s really set in stone,” Russell said.

“He’ll get this next month. I just sort of backed off of him since he ran and we’ll kind of start gearing him back up and let him tell us,” she added. “You have some ideas and goals in the back of your mind, but he doesn’t owe us anything. If we keep him home, great. If we decide to take him somewhere else, that’s cool, too.”

Russell credited her New York-based assistant, Amanda Olds, with playing a large part in Wondrwherecraigis’ success. In addition to the Bold Ruler, his other stakes win came in mid-August in the Tale of the Cat at Saratoga.

“It’s nice for us to be able to send him up and not worry about anything. There’s no worry shipping him when you have someone like that to travel with,” Russell said. “When he was up at Saratoga, after he won he stayed with her for a while up there and, obviously, it was the right move. She did a great job with him. It’s all the moving parts. We’re lucky to have the team we have.”

Wondrwherecraigis owns six wins, one second and one third with $347,640 in purse earnings from 10 starts, making a successful debut last March at Laurel just before racing was paused amid the coronavirus pandemic. He has finished first in all five of his races in Maryland, four of them wins prior to the De Francis.

“He’s cool. He’s one of the original bunch from when we first started along with Hello Beautiful,” Russell said. “’Craig’ was, at the end of that year, he was one of the horses that kind of came in and saved me. He just kind of keeps saving me. He got me that graded win, and he’s just special. He’ll always be special to us.”