Wonder Wheel Holds On in Darley Alcibiades to Headline Fall Stars Friday at Keeneland

Wonder Wheel Holds On in Darley Alcibiades to Headline Fall Stars Friday at Keeneland

Clearview Stables’ Wonder Gal was a precocious juvenile for trainer Leah Gyarmati, a stakes winner during her initial season in 2014 and the third-place finisher in that year’s 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park. Now her daughter, the Mark Casse-trained Wonder Wheel, has a date in the same race.

Racing at Keeneland Oct. 7 on opening day of the track’s fall meet, the D. J. Stable-owned filly earned a paid automatic berth in NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by lasting for a nose victory in the $497,337, Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes. The Alcibiades served a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Juvenile Fillies, which will be held at Keeneland on Nov. 4.

The daughter of Into Mischief out of $900,000 earner Wonder Gal made the most of her rail draw in the Alcibiades, skipping clear of traffic early and holding off the late rush of Chop Chop in a tight finish – so tight that trainer Casse did not allow himself to celebrate until seeing a slow motion replay shortly after the race.

“She got it!” exclaimed assistant trainer, David Carroll, hugging Casse, moments before the Hall of Fame trainer got a congratulatory phone call from his wife Tina.

Wonder Wheel “got it” but not by much, after showing a reluctance to switch leads down the stretch while holding a clear midstretch lead under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. But she had enough left to fend off the late-finishing runner-up, as well as Raging Sea and Xigera, who crossed the wire in third and fourth.

The latter two fillies flopped positions in the official order of finish after stewards disqualified Raging Sea and placed her fourth behind Xigera for bumping her down the stretch.

Wonder Wheel raced 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.17 as the 4.10-1 post-time favorite.

“I’m just so happy for the Greens,” Casse said of Leonard and Jonathan Green, who head D. J. Stable. “They’ve put a lot of money into the game, and they deserve it.”

D. J. Stable acquired Wonder Wheel last year for $275,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. Runner-up in the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga in her last start, Wonder Wheel improved her record to 3-1-0 from four starts with the Alcibiades win. She landed the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs in July.–Byron King

Delight Breeders’ Cup Bound After Impressive Jessamine Score

Delight took the early lead and never relinquished it in the $320,463, Grade 2 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes on Keeneland’s opening-day card, spurting clear in early stretch under Luis Saez to win going away by five lengths. The chestnut daughter of freshman sire Mendelssohn and 3.84-1 favorite earned an automatic bid to the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with the win. She finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.14 on firm turf.

“It was pretty easy,” Saez said about his filly’s pace-setting trip. “The plan was to follow somebody and have a target for the lead, but she broke so well and did it on her own. She controlled the pace and relaxed beautiful. When she came to the top of the stretch, it was all about her. She had a big turn of foot and I didn’t really have to do anything – just keep going on with her and she did it.”

Trainer Jonathan Thomas purchased Delight for owner George Strawbridge last spring, spending $400,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March 2-year-old in training auction. She came into the Jessamine off of a maiden win at Delaware Park and improved her career record to 2-for-4 with $211,905 in earnings.–ABR Staff

Manny Wah Upsets Phoenix, Headed to BC Sprint

Longshot Manny Wah earned his first graded stakes victory in thrilling fashion in the first “Win and You’re In” race on the Keeneland’s card, weaving through traffic under Corey Lanerie and outfinishing Long Range Toddy by a neck to take the $350,000, Grade 2 Stoll Keenon Ogden Stakes. Sent off at 17.57-1 odds, the 6-year-old Will Take Charge horse earned an expenses-paid berth in the Qatar Breeders’ Cup Sprint with his breakthrough win, which came in his 34th career start. Final time for six furlongs was 1:10.31.

“This horse had a lot of bad luck. He could have won a few more races,” trainer Wayne Catalano said. “Today, the race, the trip – Corey gave him one and the horse does what he does; he tries all the time. He’s one of our favorite horses in the barn. Everybody loves him and he loves everybody. He’s a people’s horse. I’m just so happy for Shane (Sellers) and (owner) Miss Susan (Moulton) and the whole crew and everybody that helped me get to where I am today.”

Manny Wah was briefly on the Kentucky Derby trail at age 3 in 2019 but was shortened up by Catalano that summer and won a listed stakes in early 2021 while hitting the board in seven other sprint stakes over the past three years. He improved his career record to 34-5-9-6 with $791,355 in earnings.–ABR Staff