LEXINGTON, Ky. – D J Stable’s Wonder Wheel took advantage of her inside post position to gain the early advantage and then held off late charges from Chop Chop and Raging Sea to win the 71st running of the $500,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1) for 2-year-old fillies to highlight the opening day of Keeneland’s 17-day Fall Meet that runs through Saturday, Oct. 29.
With the victory, Wonder Wheel earns a fees-paid berth into the $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to be run here Nov. 4.
Also earning fees-paid berths into the 39th Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be held here Nov. 4-5 were Manny Wah in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) and Delight in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2).
Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Wonder Wheel covered the 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:45.17. It is the fourth win in the race for Casse, who previously won with Spring in the Air (2012), My Conquestadory (2013) and Heavenly Love (2017). Gaffalione recorded his first victory in the race.
Wonder Wheel won a six-horse charge into the first turn and led the field through fractions of :23.49, :47.16 and 1:11.60 with Xigera in closest pursuit.
On the far turn, Wonder Wheel began to open up on her pursuers and had a daylight advantage in the upper stretch. Raging Sea joined Xigera in pursuit along the inside while Chop Chop made a four-wide move from the back of the pack.
At the wire, Wonder Wheel had her nose in front of Chop Chop with Raging Sea another neck back. However, Raging Sea was disqualified from third to fourth for interfering with Xigera in the final furlong.
A Keeneland sales graduate, Wonder Wheel is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Into Mischief out of the Tiz Wonderful mare Wonder Gal. Now sporting a 4-3-1-0 record, Wonder Wheel has earned $510,725 with $275,125 coming from Friday’s winner’s check.
Sent off as the favorite, Wonder Wheel returned $10.20, $5.70 and $4.66. Chop Chop, ridden by Joel Rosario, returned $8.12 and $6.04 with Xigera returning $8.66 to show under Joe Talamo.
Following Raging Sea in order were Sabra Tuff, Mustang Lady, Boss Lady Bailey, Fun and Feisty, Stellar Lady, Take Charge Briana, Kaling, Essaouira, Just Cindy and Infinite Diamond.
Quotes from the $500,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1)
Mark Casse (winning trainer of Wonder Wheel): “She had a great trip today; she had a little bit of a troubled trip (in the Spinaway-G1 at Saratoga in September). And in all honesty, the Spinaway is a big race – it’s a Grade 1, but it wasn’t my main goal. Today was it, and hopefully this will lead us into another big race coming up. She ran well, had a great trip. Some others maybe struggled and didn’t, but I do think she probably lost focus a little. She would surprise me if she couldn’t get a really good mile and a sixteenth. So maybe this race moves her up.”
On stepping up to the $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 4 at Keeneland: “Just getting this race over this track and getting the two turns, that in itself is going to move her up. It’s not rocket science. We’ll just keep her happy and hope for the best.”
Tyler Gaffalione (winning rider): “I want to thank (Mr. and Mrs. Leonard) Green (of owner D. J. Stables) and Mark Casse for giving me this opportunity. They’ve been so instrumental in my career and getting me to this point. I’m so thankful for them. This filly, she came out here and did everything right today. We always thought she had a lot of class, and she really showed it today. She put in a really big performance. Visually, (the win) doesn’t look as easy as it should, but she kind of just got lost coming into the stretch and there were a lot of people in the stands today, so she had every excuse.”
Joel Rosario (rider of runner-up Chop Chop): “She came running and it looked like for a second we got it. That was a good performance for her.”
Brad Cox (trainer of Chop Chop): “It is painful to run second in a Grade 1. It was a big field and a lot to ask. I am proud of her effort. Breeders’ Cup will be in play. She will go back to Churchill Downs, and we will make a decision. A good filly won and the fractions were very honest and (the winner) stayed on. (Chop Chop) got a lot out of this race. This was a good (field) but the Breeders’ Cup will be better.”
Phil Bauer (trainer of third-place finisher Xigera): On going to the Breeders’ Cup: “Certainly, we’ll move forward; we’ve got options of turf and dirt. Our first option was the turf and the filly (Delight) that we beat at Saratoga won the (JPMorgan Chase) Jessamine (G2 a race earlier).”
Racing continues Saturday with an 11-race program that begins at 1 p.m. ET and features five graded stakes. Three are Grade 1 events headlined by the $1 million Coolmore Turf Mile.
Keeneland will offer a Pick 6 carryover of $33,629.
Keeneland Press Release
Main Photo by Coady Photography