Saratoga Springs

Wonder Gadot attacks Spa with sharp breeze

Filly headed to the Travers is right on target in first serious workout on the main track
Wonder Gadot works a half-mile in 48.07 on the Saratoga main track under exercise rider Chris Garraway.
Wonder Gadot works a half-mile in 48.07 on the Saratoga main track under exercise rider Chris Garraway.

May as well clear this up now: It’s “Guh-DAHT,” not “Guh-DOH” or “Guh-DOAT.”

That name will be on everyone’s lips at Saratoga Race Course soon enough, so we ought to get it right.

Wonder Gadot was named for “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot by owner Gary Barber, the former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio CEO.

The actor has repeatedly — and cheerfully — tried to clear up the correct pronunciation, but that hasn’t stopped several track announcers from getting it wrong, Woodbine’s Robert Geller not being among them.

Compounding the confusion for trainer Mark Casse is the fact that his soon-to-be daughter-in-law is New York Racing Association analyst Gabby Gaudet (“Gaw-DETT”). “We’ve said ‘Wonder Gaudet’ a few times,” he said Friday morning.

What is crystal clear is that Wonder Gadot is primed for a big race soon, and there is none bigger at Saratoga than the $1.25 million Travers on Aug. 25, when she’ll take on males for the third straight time, skipping next Saturday’s Alabama against fillies.

In her first serious workout on the Saratoga main track since shipping from Woodbine in Toronto, Wonder Gadot ripped through a half-mile in 48.07 under exercise rider Chris Garraway in the first set after training hours began at 5:30 Friday morning.

Beyond her routine daily gallops, she’ll be asked for a similar breeze next weekend, and then it’s on to the Travers, which will have a filly in the field for the first time since 1979.

“Yeah, I’m ready, I wish we could do it [Travers] tomorrow,” Casse said after the breeze.

Casse was looking for a half-mile as close to the 48-second target as possible, and got it, but not without having to communicate to Garraway that Wonder Gadot was a little behind schedule through the first eighth of a mile.

Garraway asked her for some more, and Wonder Gadot delivered.

“She’s very professional,” Garraway said.

“Wonderful. She was great,” Casse said. “ We wanted to go in 48, and we had her in, like, 12 [seconds]  and four [fifths]. Our rider, of course, has a radio, so we said to step it up a little, and as soon as he asked her to go, she took off. Then she galloped out [five furlongs] in a minute and two-fifths, so she galloped out in 12 and 2.

“As a trainer, you’re looking for them to handle the new surface, which she pretty much handles every surface, so I wasn’t that concerned. But it makes you feel good when you see one bounce over it the way she did. And as you can see, she’s not tired. By the end of her cooling-out, we had to put a lip chain on her to get her so she didn’t kick anybody. She tends to get a little aggressive.”

The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro arrived at Saratoga on Aug. 1 after a 10-hour van ride from Canada.

Friday’s breeze was her first published work since the Prince of Wales on a sloppy track at Fort Erie as the 2-5 betting favorite.

Wonder Gadot had not won since the Demoiselle at Aqueduct on Dec. 2, but she had been knocking heads with the best in her division before taking on males and winning the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine and Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.

She was nosed out in a stretch duel with Sassy Sienna in the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park and also fell just short in stretch duels against Monomoy Girl in the Kentucky Oaks and Dixie Moon in the Woodbine Oaks.

The Travers, in which she’ll get a five-pound weight allowance against the males, started looking like a viable option when Triple Crown winner Justify was retired, Casse said.

“That made us start thinking,” Casse said. “Tepin competed against the boys on many occasions, Catch a Glimpse beat the boys and she [Wonder Gadot] beat the boys. The Alabama’s a great race. For 3-year-old fillies, if you told me to list them in order, I’d say Kentucky Oaks and Alabama. There’s a lot of good fillies that have won the Alabama, but  there aren’t any that have won the Travers.”

Davona Dale finished fourth in the Travers in 1979, and no filly has won it since 1915, when the colt Trial by Jury finished first but was disqualified, giving Lady Rotha the victory.

History aside, Casse certainly doesn’t expect Wonder Gadot to be physically inimidated by her male rivals.

“She’s truly Wonder Woman,” he said. “There may be a bigger horse in the paddock than her on Travers Day, but I doubt it. She’s almost 17 hands and I would say she’s 1,200 pounds-plus. You can see her. She’s pretty massive. In fact, [jockey] Florent [Geroux], who rides Monomoy Girl, he said ‘I bumped her, and now I see why she didn’t move.’ I said, ‘No, she’s not going to move.’”

Casse said Gal Gadot is aware that there’s a star filly named after her, and he’s supposed to have a phone interview with a  media outlet from her home country of Israel this weekend.

Should Wonder Gadot win the Travers, Casse joked that he could envision his filly and the movie Wonder Woman meeting.

“Maybe we can have them on the late night show.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

Categories: Sports

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