WONDERMENT GOES GATE TO WIRE IN BOURBONETTE OAKS
He’ll Pay Takes Rushaway Stakes, Gives Jones Career Win 1,000
FLORENCE, Ky. (April 2, 2016) – Wonderment led gate to wire and drew off in the stretch to win the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway Park Saturday, earning 50 points toward a spot in the gate for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on the first Friday in May.
Inconclusive was second after a sweeping late run brought her within 3-3/4 lengths of the winner. Post-time favorite Marquee Miss was third, a nose farther back, just missing second after staying within a length of Wonderment until the final furlong.
Wonderment broke from post two, went right to the lead and then settled under Cornelio Velasquez to control every step of the pace. After getting the first quarter in :23.25 and the half-mile in :47.07, she settled into six-furlongs in 1:13.05 before drawing away to finish the mile race over Polytrack in 1:39.04.
“My filly was coming off a layoff in New York and she needed her race last time (when third in the Franklin Square Stakes at Aqueduct),” said Velasquez. “She wanted to go to the lead and I had a lot of horse coming down the top of the stretch. She likes the distance and the synthetic track and she wanted to go easy on the lead.”
The Bourbonette Oaks was Wonderment’s first try around two turns and her performance went exactly as expected, said Alan Shell, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek.
“We work a lot of horses in company, young horses like her, but we can’t really work her in company,” Shell said. “We probably spend more time in the morning trying to slow her down because we don’t want her to do too much. She used that speed today. Her gallops have been getting stronger and stronger, and her breezes have been so sharp, we were confident she would like the route of ground.”
Wonderment was the bettors’ co-second choice at 4-1 and returned $10, $5.60 and $3.40. Inconclusive paid $8.80 and $4.80. Marquee Miss’s gritty determination was good for $3.20.
McPeek trains Wonderment for Sherri McPeek’s Magdalena Racing and Chris Sterbenz. The filly now has three wins and a third from four starts for earnings of $181,160. She was bred in New York by Michael Landers and is a daughter of Cosmonaut, out of the Three Wonders mare A Wonder She Is.
Miss Meteor finished fourth, followed by American Doll, Lookout Sister, Egyptian Honey, Artesian, Castiel’s Angel, Dorodansa, Lemon Drop Belle and Red Fern Doll.
HE’LL PAY TAKES RUSHAWAY STAKES, GIVES JONES CAREER WIN 1,000
Jockey Mitchell Murrill wove together a perfect trip for He’ll Pay in the Rushaway Stakes, guiding the colt to a 1-1/2 length score over Virtual Machine. Rated R Superstar was 6-1/4 lengths farther back in third.
Gimlet, the 7-5 post-time favorite, was between horses and poised to make a bid approaching the stretch but clipped heels with a quarter-mile to go and finished fourth. An objection related to the incident by the rider of Gimlet was disallowed by the stewards.
The win marked the 1,000th lifetime win for trainer Larry Jones, who called his career a “32-year overnight success.”
He’ll Pay was mid-pack and wide on the first turn of the 1-1/16 mile race, but by the half-mile mark Murrill had maneuvered him between horses toward the inside. As horses to his inside began to falter, He’ll Pay dropped down to the rail. He was gaining on the leaders at the top of the turn and took the lead entering the stretch.
Jones had high praise for his jockey. “He did a masterful job saving ground every shot he got, coming from the 12 hole and that short run to the turn. We were a lot wider in the first turn than I wanted to be but he just kept easing down, easing down, then skimmed the rail in the last turn. That was the winning move. This wind—the horses switch leads but the wind is blowing so hard they switch back again, trying to stay under the rider. But we withstood that battle and the objection so it’s all good.”
The fifth choice at 12-1, He’ll Pay did pay, returning $27.60, $11 and $7.20.
Owned by former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones, He’ll Pay was bred in the Commonwealth by Jones and WinStar Farm LLC. He is by Haynesfield out of Mons Venus, by Maria’s Mon. He now has two wins, a second and third from eight starts and earnings of $96,749.