Wicked Halo a ‘Bigger, Faster 4-Year-Old’ Heading Into G2 Bed o’ Roses

June 16, 2023

Wicked Halo victorious in the Matron at Oaklawn Park to kick off her 4YO campaign (Coady Photography)

Disarm Likely for G1 Haskell or G2 Jim Dandy

Extra Anejo Has Stakes in Future, Headed to Saratoga

Red Route One To Get Light Breather After Triple Crown Efforts

NYRA Press Office

ELMONT, N.Y.— Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Wicked Halo will square off once more with the reigning Champion Female Sprinter Goodnight Olive in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Bed o’ Roses at Belmont Park.

The seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares drew a strong field with a cumulative nine graded stakes victories across five contenders, including Wicked Halo, who enters from a one-length defeat to Matareya in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff on May 6 at Churchill Downs for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Goodnight Olive finished a troubled third in the same race after being boxed in down the lane by Wicked Halo.

The stacked field includes dual graded stakes winner Caramel Swirl, graded stakes-winner Dr B and graded stakes-placed Beguine.

“Two of the top older sprinting fillies are in a five-horse field, so forty percent of the field is top shelf,” said Winchell Thoroughbreds’ racing manager David Fiske.

Wicked Halo, a 4-year-old Gun Runner grey, boasts a record of 13-7-1-4 and $1,181,200 in earnings. A winner of the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga Race Course during her juvenile season, she captured the Spa’s Grade 2 Prioress on September 2 and Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland on October 22 before finishing third to Goodnight Olive in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on November 5 at Keeneland.

Wicked Halo spent the past couple of years racing in the shadow of her Eclipse Award-winning stablemate Echo Zulu, who also is by Gun Runner and bears the colors of Winchell Thoroughbreds. Echo Zulu was unbeaten at two, which included a 5 1/4-length win in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar, and captured the Grade 3 Dogwood as a sophomore en route to a runner-up effort behind Goodnight Olive in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, finishing one length ahead of Wicked Halo.

Fiske believes Wicked Halo’s career could see an even higher jump forward this season, which already includes a stakes triumph over Matareya in the March 31 Matron at Oaklawn Park.

“Wicked Halo seems to be a bigger, faster 4-year-old. I think figure wise and everything else, she’s right there with the top,” Fiske said. “Matareya, Wicked Halo and Goodnight Olive finished pretty close together on Derby Day. That’s a pretty good yardstick. Between Matareya, Goodnight Olive, Echo Zulu and Wicked Halo – I think one of those four is getting the [Eclipse Award] trophy this year.”

Echo Zulu and Wicked Halo are just two stars amongst the first crop of 2017 Horse of the Year and now leading North American stallion Gun Runner, who also was campaigned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Asmussen.

“The early prognostication on Gun Runner is that they’ll get better later, which surprised everyone when Echo Zulu, Wicked Halo and [Grade 1 winner] Gunite came out in the first crop,” Fiske said. “But two things can be true at the same time. They can be good 2-year-olds while also improve and be good older horses. Using the metrics and figures that we have, it’s clear that Wicked Halo has upped her game.” 

Fiske said he would ideally like to keep Echo Zulu, who captured the Grade 3 Winning Colors on May 29 at Churchill Downs, and Wicked Halo separate for the time being.

“We’ll do that as long as we can, but hopefully we don’t have to do that [square off] until the Breeders’ Cup,” Fiske said. “Hopefully, they’re still sound and racing by November. I’d certainly like to keep them apart but there aren’t too many opportunities for Grade 1 older filly sprinters.”

Wicked Halo, a Kentucky homebred, is out of the Tapit mare Just Wicked who, like Wicked Halo, also captured the Adirondack at Saratoga.

Disarm splashes to a half-length victory over Verifying in the Matt Winn (Coady Photography)

Fiske said Disarm, who captured Sunday’s Grade 3 Matt Winn at Ellis Park, is a likely candidate for either the Grade 1 Haskell on July 22 at Monmouth Park or the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy on July 29 at Saratoga. The Gun Runner chestnut was a closing fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby in May at Churchill Downs.

“Good horses are pretty easy to manage. You just have to figure out where you want them to go and then work backwards from there,” Fiske noted. “It seems like coming up, the Haskell or the Jim Dandy would be the most logical spots. We’ll see how he trains between now and then.”

Regardless of where or when the aforementioned horses run, Fiske said they will ship up to Saratoga at the beginning of July to join Asmussen’s string stabled on the Oklahoma Training Track.

Fiske said the highly regarded Extra Anejo would accompany his stable stars at the Spa, following a 6 1/4-length allowance conquest going one mile on June 10 at Ellis Park.

“He’ll show up in a stake somewhere,” Fiske said. “He’s going to Saratoga with the rest of the string. He came out of his race great and he and Disarm are both exciting prospects.”

Fiske added that American Classic participant Red Route One will get a light breather following a respective fourth and eighth in the Grade 1 Preakness and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

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