Russell’s Wondrwherecraigis gets invitation to Dubai Golden Shaheen

March 14, 2022

Princess Kokachin Captures Laurel’s Sunday Stakes-Quality Allowance

LAUREL, Md. – After a few weeks of wondering where he would run next, Laurel Park-based Grade 3 winner Wondrwherecraigis will be halfway around the world for his next start later this month.

Trainer Brittany Russell said Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ Wondrwherecraigis is scheduled to leave on a Monday flight from Miami to Dubai to run in the $2 million Golden Shaheen (G1) March 26 at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

Winner of the Jan. 29 Fire Plug at Laurel in his lone start this year, Wondrwherecraigis worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds March 10 at historic Pimlico Race Course and left the next day for his stopover in South Florida.

Wondrwherecragis was nominated to the seven-furlong General George (G3) Feb. 19 at Laurel and six-furlong Tom Fool (G3) March 5 at Aqueduct before the connections settled on the Golden Shaheen, contested at 1,200 meters or about six furlongs.

“Obviously it’s a good purse and it seems like they take really good care of you in the sense of shipping the horse and taking care of the connections,” Russell said. “It’s been a little bit of a back and forth. The majority of the partnership, they’ve been thinking Dubai. It was just sort of left up to the group.

“If you look around at where we are at this time of year and what we’re going to do with him, it kind of seemed like, ‘You know what? Let’s go take a swing,’” she added.

Wondrwherecraigis will take a two-race win streak into the Golden Shaheen. His popular 3 ¾-length triumph in the six-furlong Fire Plug was his first race since capturing the seven-furlong Bold Ruler Oct. 31 at Aqueduct, the first graded-stakes victory for horse and trainer.

“He’s doing really well,” Russell said. “Since the Fire Plug he’s trained well, and now it’s just about getting him over there and hoping he travels well, which I expect he will.”

The Bold Ruler win also came one day before Russell gave birth to a son, Rye, her second child with her husband, champion Maryland jockey Sheldon Russell. They are also parents to a 2 ½-year-old daughter, Edy.

Assistant trainer Amanda Olds is making the 7,826-mile trip from Miami to Dubai with Wondrwherecraigis and will oversee his training. The Russells plan to fly out the week of the race.

“It’s kind of going to be sad to leave my children,” Brittany Russell said. “Of course I’m excited. It’s quite an experience and I love this horse.”

Among those invited to the Golden Shaheen are Grade 1 winners Drain the Clock, based at Gulfstream Park, and California-based Dr. Schivel. Other horses on the final list of 10 include Japanese Group 3 winners Copano Kicking, fifth in last year’s Golden Shaheen, and Red Le Zele, and Dubai-based multiple Group 3 winner Al Tariq.

“You’re going to Dubai, so of course you’re going to catch some monsters. We don’t want to be 20-1 but, on the other hand, we’re not going to be the favorite,” Russell said. “We’re going over there with a horse who thinks he’s on top of the world right now. Hopefully he’s still thinking that when he leaves there.”

Princess Kokachin (Maryland Jockey Club)

Princess Kokachin Captures Laurel’s Sunday Stakes-Quality Allowance

It didn’t come in her familiar front-running fashion, but Eric Rizer’s 4-year-old homebred filly Princess Kokachin continued her winning ways with a three-quarter-length triumph in Sunday’s featured eighth race, an open stakes-quality allowance for older females sprinting 5 ½ furongs.

Princess Kokachin ($4.40) broke on top but was outrun to the far turn by multiple stakes winner Dontletsweetfoolya, who led through a quarter-mile in 22.78 seconds. Princess Kokachin pressed the pace two wide, assumed the lead straightening for home after a half in 45.59 and pulled clear down the lane to win in 1:03.74 over a fast main track.

Kaylasaurus, winner of the Dec. 26 Willa On the Move and exiting fourth in the Feb. 19 Barbara Fritchie (G3), came with a late run to edge Dontletsweetfoolya by a half-length for second. Long shots Bunting and Whiskey and Rye completed the field.

It was the ninth win from 16 career starts for Princess Kokachin, second in a row and eighth in her last 11. She put together a five-race win streak last fall, capped by a 5 ½-length upset of Hello Beautiful in the six-furlong Politely in November. Hello Beautiful was recently named Maryland-bred champion older female of 2021.

Notes: Fresh off a day trip to South Florida, where he won the Captiva Island aboard Headline Hunter at Gulfstream Park, winter meet-leading jockey Jevian Toledo returned to Laurel to ride a pair of winners, Image Maker ($24.60) in Race 2 and Commanding General ($4.60) in Race 4. Both horses are trained by Richard Sillaman … Claudio Gonzalez also posted a training double, with Money Ride ($5) in Race 7 and Baltimore Bulleit ($6.60) in Race 9 … Live racing returns Friday, March 18 with carryovers of $1,733.90 in the $1 Super Hi-5 and $767.59 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6. Post time for the first of 11 races is 12:40 p.m.

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Top Photo: Wondrwherecraigis kicked off his winning ways with a victory at Pimlico in an AOC July 18, 2021, with a 117 Equibase Speed Figure. (Maryland Jockey Club)

@PastTheWire Thank you for that article. I was 11yrs old watching race on TV & remember it like yesterday.Great article #GreatHorse #Ruffian

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