A pair of points races on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks took place recently, one over Thanksgiving weekend and the other on Saturday, and the winners turned out be Mark Casse-trained stablemates.
First up was the Golden Rod Stakes (G2), which took place over the same Churchill Downs track that the Oaks will be run on next spring. Monomoy Girl was sent off the 4-5 favorite, and looked deserving of that status throughout the 1 1/16-mile affair, but was just caught on the line.
The Tapizar filly set the pace just off the rail with Road to Victory keeping pace to her outside. Both raced under a snug hold down backstretch but still managed to draw away from rest of field by a good margin. Rounding the final bend, Road to Victory inched up to run in tandem and gained a short lead heading into the stretch.
Monomoy Girl fought back on the inside, grabbing command once again, and appeared the winner in the lane. However, Road to Victory continued battling to the outside and managed to reel in her more highly regarded rival to score by a neck on the wire.
Neither filly disgraced herself in this spot, and each was awarded with a career-best 99 BRIS Speed rating. Road to Victory entered the contest off 3 1/2-length maiden debut victory over Woodbine’s turf on October 1 and was trying the main track for the first time. She more than proved capable of handling the surface switch and set herself up to continue on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
Monomoy Girl was going for a perfect four-for-four mark in the Golden Rod after breaking her maiden over Indiana Grand’s turf, taking a grassy allowance/optional claimer under the Twin Spires and successfully transitioning to Churchill’s main track for a 6 1/2-length wire job in the Rags to Riches Stakes. Despite getting leg weary at the finish, the Brad Cox pupil deserves another shot at stretching out past a mile.
One week later at Aqueduct, Wonder Gadot sought redemption in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) after a dismal trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). The Medaglia d’Oro miss never had the chance to show what she could do at Del Mar, but had a much better trip Saturday.
The dark bay gunned for the lead along with four others, of whom Daisy prevailed up front. Jockey John Velazquez allowed Wonder Gadot to settle outside that runner circling the first turn and down the backstretch. She latched onto Daisy’s throat latch and never backed up.
As Kendrick Carmouche got busy on Daisy entering the first turn, Velazquez was still sitting chilly on Wonder Gadot. He only got began urging his mount upon hitting the lane, and the filly responded by pulling away under a long, high-stepping stride to be 3 3/4 lengths clear on the wire.
The cleverly named filly has plenty of talent, but her stretch run was slightly odd. Wonder Gadot brought her knees up real high and stretched out from there. However, looking back at her Mazarine Stakes (Can-G3) romp, the filly did the same thing in different parts of that contest, so it obviously doesn’t affect her speed.
Both Road to Victory and Wonder Gadot scored impressive wins but the Road to the Kentucky Oaks is just beginning. There are many more races to come and it’ll be exciting to see how the pair perform as sophomores.