Sicilian Princess Looks to Graduate in Busher; Manny Wah Nearing Millionaire Status

February 29, 2024

Veteran Manny Wah will contend the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) on Saturday (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.—Trainer Will Walden is sending two horses on opposite ends of the experience spectrum to Aqueduct for Saturday’s lucrative Gotham Day card, seeking Kentucky Oaks points with sophomore maiden filly Sicilian Princess in the one-mile Listed $200,000 Busher and millionaire-status with Manny Wah in the six-furlong Grade 3, $175,000 Tom Fool Handicap.

Cypress Creek Equine and KK Thoroughbred Racing’s Sicilian Princess debuted in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on February 14 at Turfway Park, breaking a step slow from the inside post and trailing the 12-horse field as favorite Sweet Gal of Mine set the tempo. Sicilian Princess made up ground along the rail but was unable to reel in the pacesetter, settling for place-honors beaten 1 3/4 lengths.

“She was the first one of twelve to load. She kind of got caught sleeping there at the break. I think in her second start, she’ll be a little quicker there away from the stalls,” said Walden. “She has tactical speed, even though we feel like she is a two-turn horse and that a route distance is what she wants to do. She is not void of tactical speed.”

Stretching out to the one-turn mile distance in the Busher is a tall ask for a maiden, but with Sicilian Princess’ pedigree and a solid 74 Beyer Speed Figure upon debut, Walden isn’t afraid to take a shot.

“She is a big, 17-hands-high Justify filly. She wants a two-turn or route distance. A route is going to be where she excels,” Walden said. “Based off of the number she got in her first time out, she looks like she can be competitive if she moves forward in her second start. She came out of the race the way you would want her to, her head is on right. She’s training forward and we’ll see if that progresses to the afternoon.”

Bred in Kentucky by Cypress Creek Equine, Sicilian Princess, out of the Street Cry mare Elle Sueno, is a half-sister to Dream Lith, who won the 2021 Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs. Her third dam is Grade 1-winner Mi Sueno.

The Busher offers 50-25-15-10-5 qualifying points to the top five finishers towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.

Susan Moulton’s Manny Wah boasts a record of 43-5-10-7 with $955,196 in earnings. The 8-year-old Will Take Charge horse last appeared in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan here on February 3, where he chased the early foot of Super Chow and ultimately settled for second.

​​”I don’t know if I’d be as worried about Super Chow this time as much as last time because it was seven-eighths and he kind of got that lead all by himself through three-quarters. I think he’ll probably get pressed a little harder,” Walden said. “That being said, you can’t really take anything away from the horse, he ran great that day and if he is doing well, he is going to be one of the main contenders and tough to beat.”

A win would push Manny Wah over $1 million in earnings for a career highlighted by a neck score in the 2022 Grade 2 Phoenix prior to an impressive run for fourth in that year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland as the longest shot on the board at odds of 55-1.

Saturday will be the third start for Manny Wah in Walden’s barn, his first 41 came under the conditioning of Wayne Catalano. Manny Wah received a pair of 87 Beyers for his first two outings for Walden, the first being a fourth-place finish in the Holiday Cheer sprinting six furlongs over the Turfway Park synthetic on December 30.

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