Weekend Lineup: Champion Wonder Wheel Makes 3-Year-Old Debut - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Weekend Lineup: Champion Wonder Wheel Makes 3-Year-Old Debut

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione celebrates aboard Wonder Wheel after winning the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

This weekend's live racing action is highlighted by the return of 2022 Champion Juvenile Filly Wonder Wheel. The Mark Casse trainee will make her first start of 2023 in the listed Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, but faces a tough challenge in the form of undefeated Julia Shining. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Julia Shining is a full sister to 2022 Champion Older Dirt Female Malathaat.

A trio of Kentucky Derby prep races are on offer this weekend: the rescheduled G3 Withers at Aqueduct (20-8-6-4-2), the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs (20-8-6-4-2), and the listed El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields (10-4-3-2-1).

The Withers, originally scheduled for Feb. 4 but cancelled due to freezing temperatures and high winds, was brought back for this Saturday's card with the same six entrants and the addition of maiden winner Jungfrau. New York-bred Arctic Arrogance adds blinkers in his third appearance in a Derby prep, while Brad Cox ships Hit Shot north for this spot.

G2 Remsen winner Dubyuhnell returns in the G3 Sam F. Davis, facing a field of 11 rivals for his first start of 2023. Locally-trained Dreaming of Kona is an intriguing prospect for owner/trainer Aldana Spieth, wife of jockey Scott Spieth, who will ride the Fast Anna colt.

The El Camino Real offers a free berth to the Preakness Stakes to the winner, and is led by local stakes winner Passarando. Bob Baffert also shipped two entrants north for the contest.

Other significant stakes action around the country on Saturday includes the G3 Gulfstream Turf Sprint and Ladies' Turf Sprint at Gulfstream, the $150,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn, the $100,000 Sweet Life Stakes down the hill at Santa Anita, and two more listed stakes on the Sam Davis undercard at Tampa Bay Downs.


4:27 p.m. – Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct

Seven 3-year-olds go in search of Derby points in the rescheduled Withers on Saturday, led by a pair of 8-5 favorites on the morning line.

Arctic Arrogance, who is trained by Linda Rice and will add blinkers for the first time, will be making this third appearance in a Kentucky Derby points race at the Big A. He looks to break through after valiant runner-up efforts in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Remsen on Dec. 3 and the one-mile Jerome on Jan. 7. He is currently 13th on the leaderboard with eight points.

Trainer Brad Cox has sent Hit Show north for this spot, scratching the son of Candy Ride from the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn. The colt won a one-mile allowance race at Oaklawn in his most recent start, and gets the services of Manny Franco.

Juddmonte's homebred Jungfrau [post 3, Dylan Davis] makes his stakes debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott on the heels of a third-out graduation on Dec. 31 at Gulfstream Park. The son of Arrogate was awarded the maiden-breaking win via disqualification.

Andiamo a Firenze enters from a distant fifth-place finish in the aforementioned Jerome for trainer Kelly Breen. The dark bay son of Speightstown, who is a three-quarter sibling to multiple Grade 1-winner Firenze Fire, won the listed Funny Cide Stakes at Saratoga back in August.

Withers Entries

4:48 p.m. – Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs

Wonder Wheel, the 2022 Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, is set to make her 2023 debut in Saturday's $150,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The Mark Casse-trained daughter of Into Mischief will face eight rivals in the Kentucky Oaks points race, having posted four workouts at Casse's Ocala training center since her win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Perhaps the primary rival to Wonder Wheel is Julia Shining, a Stonestreet homebred by Curlin out of Grade 1 winner Dreaming of Julia. The 3-year-old filly is a full sister to last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff winner and champion older dirt female, Malathaat. Julia Shining has won both of her career starts thus far, including the G2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct.

Suncoast Entries

5:18 p.m. – Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs

G2 Remsen winner Dubyuhnell has been tabbed as the 9-5 morning-line choice for the Sam F. Davis Stakes, making his first start of 2023 and fourth start overall for trainer Danny Gargan. Jose Ortiz has the mount.

Mark Casse trainee Champions Dream is the second choice on the morning line after his last-out second in Tampa's Pasco. Champions Dream, who closed fast to be second to Zydeceaux by a neck, is “definitely a much better horse now than he was (then),” Casse said. Tyler Gaffalione will ride. Casse also entered Florida-bred allowance winner Classic Car Wash.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has entered Litigate, a son of Blame who most recently finished second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park. Luis Saez ships north for the ride.

Tampa Bay Downs trainer Aldana Spieth has entered Oldsmar-based Dreaming of Kona, a stakes-winning gray colt she owns in partnership. Spieth's husband, Scott Spieth, will ride Dreaming of Kona. In Dreaming of Kona's most recent race on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, he finished a half-length behind Legacy Isle and was elevated to the win position via disqualification because Legacy Isle drifted out late, impeding Dreaming of Kona's momentum.

Davis Entries

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