WONDER GADOT and MIDNIGHT BISOU, the respective runner-up and third-placer from the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 4, could be on course for a showdown in the Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on August 18 after showcasing their talents Saturday in two different countries.
Wonder Gadot hooked up with Monomoy Girl in the lane at Churchill Downs and battled it out with her rival before falling short by only a half-length on the wire. The Mark Casse pupil returned a month after the Kentucky Oaks to take on the Woodbine Oaks at Woodbine in Toronto, Canada. Once again, the Medaglia d’Oro miss suffered a tough beat, this time finishing second by a head after rearing at the start, being squeezed back into last rounding the first bend and running wide throughout.
Saturday saw a new Wonder Gadot, as the talented lass sported blinkers for the first time and stretched out to 1 1/4 miles in the Queen’s Plate, which also took place at Woodbine. The race, which is Canada’s version of the Kentucky Derby (G1) and kicked off the Canadian Triple Crown, featured a field of 16, but that proved no deterrent for Wonder Gadot.
Jockey John Velazquez settled the filly between rivals near the front out of the gate, then angled her outside of rivals on the backstretch to stalk the early pace just off the top-running three. He sent her forward rounding the turn, and Wonder Gadot easily grabbed command in the lane. She pulled off to be 4 3/4 lengths clear on the wire.
Owner Gary Barber indicated after the Queen’s Plate that Wonder Gadot could utilize the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the July 24 Prince of Wales Stakes going 1 3/16 miles at Fort Erie, as a stepping stone to Saratoga’s Alabama, which is conducted at the same 1 1/4-mile distance as the Queen’s Plate.
If those plans come to fruition, Wonder Gadot might end up facing Midnight Bisou in the Alabama.
Midnight Bisou brought a three-race win streak into the Run for the Lilies and was sent off the 2-1 favorite but found herself running near the rear of the field on the backstretch on the first Friday in May. The dark bay daughter of Midnight Lute ran well off the rail and continued her outside momentum to be four wide on the final bend and seven wide into the lane. Rallying furiously down the center of the track, she had too much ground to make up on the top two and was forced to settle for third.
Midnight Bisou received a nice break following her Kentucky Oaks effort and returned Saturday in the 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. While she retained the services of Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith, the Kentucky-bred miss found herself running for a new trainer.
Bill Spawr conditioned Midnight Bisou from her debut through the Oaks, but she was transferred to Steve Asmussen prior to the Mother Goose and rewarded her new conditioner with a six-length romp as the 2-5 favorite. She stalked just behind the pacesetter on Saturday, easily took over rounding the bend and pulled off in the lane.
Smith was full of praise for the filly, saying afterward, “I’ve got goose bumps – Mother Goose bumps!
“She’s growing, she’s getting better, starting to fill out more. She was young coming up and now she’s getting older and more mature. That’s what happens when they’ve got that kind of talent.”
Assistant trainer Scott Blasi went on to say Midnight Bisou was headed to Saratoga with the rest of Asmussen’s New York string.
It would be great to see the Kentucky Oaks top three in the Alabama, but unfortunately Monomoy Girl isn’t expected for that contest. Like Wonder Gadot and Midnight Bisou, she’s already shown up in the winner’s circle since the Kentucky Oaks, taking the June 9 Acorn Stakes (G1) by two lengths at Belmont Park.
Following that one-mile affair, trainer Brad Cox said, “Our preliminary plan is the (July 22) Coaching Club American Oaks ([G1] at Saratoga), the (September 22) Cotillion ([G1] at Parx) and the (November 3) Breeders’ Cup (Distaff [G1]) at home (Churchill Downs). We’ve had this mapped out since last winter, and she’s hit every mark so far.”
Which means, the trio isn’t likely to rematch until the Distaff in November.
Nonetheless, the Alabama could be a nice little taste of what’s to come if Wonder Gadot and Midnight Bisou make an appearance.