Wonder Wheel Readies for 2023 Ky. Oaks Campaign

January 25, 2023

Wonder Wheel winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

~ The Road to the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard Update
~ Into Mischief with three daughters in top five!

By Maribeth Kalinich

Popular and uber successful D. J. Stable LLC’s Wonder Wheel stands far and above in No. 1 on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 40 points. The Mark Casse trainee has collected $1,481,265 in non-restricted stakes earnings.

The Into Mischief filly’s last start was her G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies victory Nov. 4, 2022, under Tyler Gaffalione at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland. Oct. 7 Wonder Wheel captured the G1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes by a nose. Each race gave her the 20 points for her total 40. 

Out of Tizwonderful mare Wonder Gal, Wonder Wheel has won four of five starts with one second in the G1 Spinaway at Saratoga when she gave a game rally but just could not catch rival Leave No Trace, No. 4 on the leaderboard, and missed the G1 victory by 1 length. 

Casse gave the 3-year-old filly two January works at his training center. A three-furlong breeze on the 11th in 35.80 and four furlongs on the 17th in 47.20. 

Looking at the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race schedule Casse may be pointing Wonder Wheel toward the $150,000 Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs February 11th at 1 mile 40 yards with the 20-8-6-4-2 point structure. Then perhaps the G2 $200,000 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park on March 4th with 50 points to the winner, or more likely, the $250,000 G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on April 1st for a whopping 100 points to the winner for a huge crescendo to her Derby campaign. 

Any horse who goes in all three will stupefying much less winning a couple.

Just moved into No. 2 is Ike and Dawn Thrash’s The Alys Look trained by Brad Cox with 24 points. And earnings of $111,000.  

Sired by Connect out of Harlan’s Holiday mare Foul Play, The Alys Look picked up 20 points winning the Silverbulletday Stakes at the Fair Grounds Jan. 21. Prior to that she earned four points with her second place in the Untable Stakes Dec. 26 also at the Fair Grounds.

A Brad Cox trainee, she has had two January works at the Fair Grounds. Cox gave her a breeze Jan. 7 at five furlongs in 1:01.40 and another Jan. 14 at four furlongs in 48.60. 

Looking at the prep race schedule and the fact that The Alys Look and Cox are based at the Fair Grounds her next start may be the $300,000 G2 Rachel Alexander at 1 1/16 miles with 50-20-15-10-5 points on the line.

Occult winning the Busanda. (Chelsea Durand)

At No. 3 is Alpha Delta Stable LLC’s Occult, under four-time Eclipse winner Chad Brown with earnings of $55,000.

Another daughter of Into Mischief, Occult is out of Empire Maker mare Magical Feeling and was bred by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC.

The bay scored her 20-point winning the 1 1/8 miles Busanda at Aqueduct Jan. 14 by 3 1/2 lengths with a tenacious challenge by Gambling Girl throughout. (The record in the Busanda of 1:47 flat was set by Riva Ridge Oct. 15, 1973.)

Brown has Occult in training at Belmont Park and she has had two four-furlong breezes in January—on the 2nd she did 50 seconds flat, on the 8th a big quicker with 49.21

My best guess is Brown will start Occult next March 4th in the 1 mile $200,000 Busher at Aqueduct with 50-20-15-10-5 points on the line. That gives some rest time if the team wants to go for the big points races April 1 all at 1 1/6 miles, all worth 100-40-30-20-10 points. The possible races would be the $600,000 G3 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park or the $600,000 G1 Ashland at Keeneland depending on how Brown’s filly performs in her next start.

As mentioned, WellSpring Stables’ Leave No Trace sits at No. 4 with 15 points and $553,000 in earnings. Those points and earnings came from her win in the G1 Spinaway after breaking her maiden on first asking; A third in the G1 Frizette; and, second in the G1 Juvenile Fillies. 

Keep an eye out on the Outwork filly out of Good Journey mare Tanquerray. 

Trained by Philip Serpe, he has worked his feisty filly twice in January at Gulfstream Park breezing three furlongs on the 15th in 39.32 and four on the 23rd in 49.31.  I’ll give you even odds Leave No Trace makes her next start in Feb. 4 in the $125,000 G3 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park seven furlongs to give her a sprint for a freshening since she won the Spinaway at seven panels. 

No. 5 is yet, again, another Into Mischief filly! Godolphin’s homebred Pretty Mischievous (I love the names they are given) with 13 points. With one heck of a pedigree, she is out of the Tapit mare Pretty City Dancer. She has earnings of $533,000.

The Brendan Walsh trainee collected her points with a win in the Untapable (10 points) at the Fair Grounds Dec. 26 by three lengths over The Alys Look, a possible Oaks rival, and third place in the G2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs gave her three more points. This was her only start she did not win out of four. She has earnings of $99,350. 

She has had no recent works so I can’t guesstimate her next start. 

Rounding out the top 10 on the Leaderboard are:

  • Chop Chop moving up to this spot after a win in the with 12 total points. O: Selective LLC, T: Brad Cox, earnings $419,450
  • Ice Dancing with 12 points. O: Perry R. Bass II and Ramona S. Bass, T: Richard Mandella, earnings $168,000
  • Raging Sea with 11 points, O: Alpha Delta Stables, T: Chad Brown, earnings $99,350
  • Gambling Girl with 11 points, O: Repole Stable, T: Todd Pletcher, earnings $50,000
  • Hoosier Philly with 10 points, O: Gold Standard Racing Stable, T: Tom Amos, earnings $365,610

Kentucky Oaks Horses

A little recent Oaks history …

The Oaks has a deep, rich history of amazing fillies with an incredibly robust group of victresses in the past two decades. 

With the most wins in the Oaks at six, the coach,” D. Wayne Lukas’ Secret Oath, fourth in the Preakness against the boys. wore the blanket of lilies last year for Briland Farm with Luis Saez aboard.

The formidable Malathaat (2021), Princess of Sylmar (2013), Rags To Riches (2007) and Ashado (2004) represent the Oaks in Todd Pletcher’s glistening trophy case. Ashado alone must have her own trophy case. Seven Grade 1 wins and two Eclipse Awards. 

Brad Cox would have two Oaks champions in Monomoy Girl in 2018 and Shedaresthedevil in 2020, the latter who set the record of 1:48.28 for the 1 1/8 miles.

The tenacious Secret Oath winning the 2022 Kentucky Oaks. (Coady Photography)

Cox’s two champions had one jockey in Florent Geroux with each having multiple owners. Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, Elkstone Group Group and Bethlehem Stables for Monomoy Girl. Flurry racing Stables, Qatar Racing Unlimited and Big But Farms for the vivacious Shedaresthedevil. 

In 2009, one of the greatest female racehorses of all time, Rachel Alexander set the bar high for distance beating the field by 20 1/4 lengths. The she won the Preakness two weeks later.

Larry Jones trainees Proud Spell won in 2008 with Gabriel Saez up and in 2012 the first female jockey, Rosie Napravnik, would win the Oaks for ones aboard Believe You Can. 

Two years later, Napravnik would win the 2014 Oaks for Steve Asmussen aboard Untapable wearing Winchell Thoroughbreds’ colors. 

Bob Baffert had this first victory in 1999 with Silverbulletday under Gary Stevens with two subsequent wins with Plum Pretty in 2011 and Abel Tasman in 2017. 

Contributing Authors

Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

Maribeth Kalinich grew up in a family with a love for horses, a passion for Thoroughbred horse racing and a taste for playing the ponies....

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