WONDRWHERECRAIGIS GIVES BRITTANY RUSSELL FIRST GRADED WIN
Wondrwherecraigis removed the uncertainty from his location on Sunday, as the 4-year-old Munnings gelding was clearly the best in going gate-to-wire for a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs on the Belmont Park main track.
The effort garnered trainer Brittany Russell her first career graded stakes win, adding to her 11 stakes victories she had already compiled this year. It also contributed to a memorable week for the conditioner, who said she will undergo a cesarean section on Monday to deliver her second child.
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Owned by Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Michael J. Caruso, Wondrwherecraigis posted his fourth win in six starts this year, breaking on top from post 6 under jockey Luis Saez and leading the seven-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 23.78 seconds and the half in 46.95 over the sloppy and sealed main track.
Wondrwherecraigis maintained the edge out of the turn with Continuation in pursuit under rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. But Saez kept his charge to task and he responded by pressing on, completing the course in a final time of 1:23.31.
“The seven furlongs was a question, but it’s nice to find out he can do it,” Russell said. “Luis did a beautiful job. He jumped out of there and slowed it down the best he could and didn’t take anything away from the horse either. He’s sat on him so he knows he can get that drift, but that’s just him. I don’t know that he’s necessarily getting late – in some of his other races, he’s just had to go faster early. It’s the race on the day and how it sets up.”
The victory was a redemption for Wonderwherecraigis, who crossed the wire first in the Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on September 18 at Laurel Park but was disqualified and placed second behind Jalen Journey for interference near the sixteenth pole.
“That was awesome and a great redemption from the DQ in Maryland,” said Russell, who went out on her own as a trainer in 2018. “I watched from home because I’m having a C-section tomorrow, so I couldn’t make the trip today. I’m home resting in preparation for tomorrow. It picked our heads up knowing we’re going to have a new baby tomorrow. The whole team deserved it and he [Wondrwherecraigis] deserved it. He’s been awesome.
“It was a gut-wrenching feeling to have the De Francis pulled up from under us in Maryland as that’s our home base, but we’re trying to make a mark in New York, too,” Russell added. “So, this is a big deal and it’s a great group of owners. Mike Dubb was there today, and the whole thing has been amazing.”
Off as the 2-1 second choice, Wondrwherecraigis returned $6.40 on a $2 win bet. He improved his career earnings to $347,640.
“I took him away from the pony and when he was in his stall, he broke pretty well,” Saez said. “He controlled the pace and when we came to the top of the stretch, I felt like I had a lot of horse to finish with and he responded really well. He was handling it pretty well. The plan was to try to slow the pace early so everything went according to plan.”
Russell said the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on December 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack might prove to be a bit too far.“I don’t know that we’ll try and mile him. I think we’ll enjoy today and look at the schedule to see what’s next,” Russell said. “I expect we’ll stay around the six-seven [furlongs] mark. We’ll just see how he comes back and make a plan.”
PT and K Stable’s Continuation finished strong for second, 3 1/2 lengths clear of even-money favorite Plainsman. Continuation was making his first stakes appearance in 13 career starts.