G1 Winner Splits Horses in Mid-Stretch for One-Length Victory
BALTIMORE – Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Grade 1 winner Wicked Whisper, making just her third start of the year, split horses in mid-stretch and went on to earn her first victory in nearly a year in Saturday’s $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.
The 35th running of the six-furlong Miss Preakness for 3-year-old fillies was fifth on an all-stakes program of 12 races worth $2.7 million in purses featuring the $1 million Preakness (G1) and $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2).
Wicked Whisper ($12.60) completed the distance in 1:10.36 over a fast main track to win by a length. Ain’t No Elmers was second, three-quarters of a length ahead of 14-1 long shot Sound Machine. It was another 2 ¾ lengths back to 1-2 favorite Mundaye Call in fourth.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen earned his third win in the Miss Preakness, also having success with Heart Ashley in 2009 and Vertical Oak in 2017. Jockey Joe Bravo previously won the Miss Preakness in 1992 with Toots La Mae.
Asmussen explained, “She’s a Grade 1 winner in last year’s Frizette. She’s been definitely interrupted by this year’s racing calendar. She was getting ready late for things and then with the cancellations, we got off track. It’s beautiful to see her show the quality that she’s always had. Joe gave her a great trip today. There are big things in her future.”
Ain’t No Elmers edged clear of Charles Town Oaks (G3) winner Fly On Angel along the rail to take a short lead after they went the first quarter-mile in 23.08 seconds. Wicked Whisper saved ground inside in third with Mundaye Call tracking in fourth two wide. Bravo tipped Wicked Whisper off the rail and navigated between Ain’t No Elmers and a retreating Fly On Angel and surged to the wire in the final sixteenth.
“You just can’t draw them up to be any better than that. She broke good. The only thing I was really told was ‘make sure you pay attention to her leaving the gate. She’s been having trouble getting away from there.’ When she broke so cleanly it was like the pressure got off me. She was able to breathe around the turn. I know the ‘5’ horse (Mundaye Call) is a very good filly, but all horses relaxed and it just gave me all the confidence,” jockey Bravo stated.
Purchased for $500,000 as a yearling, Wicked Whisper debuted with a runaway win at Saratoga last summer and captured the Frizette (G1) in her second career start last Oct. 6 at Belmont Park. She came out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) with minor leg issues that took time to get over, and this year was fourth in the Beaumont (G3) and most recently second in the Charles Town Oaks Aug. 28, beaten a half-length.
Photo: Wicked Whisper. Credit: Maryland Jockey Club