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Gulfport, Wonder Wheel romp in Churchill’s 2yo stakes

Churchill Downs stakes recaps by track publicity department. Photo above: Gulfport steamrolled the competition en route to a 12 1/4-length victory in the closing-day Bashford Manor. Coady Photography

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Monday, July 4, 2022) – Sent to post as the odds-on 1-5 favorite, Gulfport lived up to the hype in Monday’s 121st running of the $173,000 Bashford Manor (Listed) at Churchill Downs. The 2-year-old Uncle Mo colt broke fast from the gate and widened his lead down the stretch en route to a 12 ¼-length demolish-job over Owen’s Leap and Andthewinneris while clocking six furlongs in 1:09.25 on closing day of the 42-day Spring Meet.

          The winning margin was the largest in the storied history of six-furlong juvenile sprint, surpassing Kantharos’ 9 ½-length romp in 2010. Additionally, it was the second-fastest clocking, only behind Kodiak Kowboy’s 1:09.15 stakes record in 2007.

          Gulfport gave Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen his record-extending seventh win in the race and clinched his 26th Churchill Downs training title (25-23 wins over Brad Cox). In addition to Gulfport, Kantharos and Kodiak Kowboy, Asmussen won the Bashford Manor with Lunarpal (2004), Cinco Charlie (2014), Sir Truebadour (2018) and Cazadero (2020).

          Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the winner for owners Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt (who won the race for a record fourth time), Terry Green’s Jackpot Farm and Carrol Castille’s Whispering Oaks Farm.

“We’re so grateful for all of our owners to have horses like Gulfport. He’s been extremely talented from an early stage and has shown us a lot of ability,” Asmussen said.

          Breaking from the rail in the field of six 2-year-olds, Gulfport displayed an explosive turn of foot out of the gate and clocked the first quarter mile in a quick 21.65 as Simply Super chased about a length back in an attempt to keep up. Leaving the turn in :45.07, Gulfport spurted clear by two lengths and glided down the homestretch to prove his superiority.

“I think that was something very special,” Hernandez Jr. said. “He really did all of that on his own. I let him break at the rail and he took me right to the front. It was extremely impressive. He’s a really nice colt and did everything so easy today.”

          Gulfport’s triumph was worth $107,070 and increased his bankroll to $176,530 with a perfect record in two starts. His debut win came June 10 at Churchill Downs, a five-furlong maiden special weight he won by seven lengths.

A $275,000 yearling buy, Gulfport is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Fame and Fortune. He was bred in Kentucky by Diamond Creek Farm.

Gulfport returned $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10. Owen’s Leap, under Edgar Morales at 7-1, paid $3.80 and $2.40. Andthewinneris paid $2.40 to show under James Graham at 7-1.

Simply Super, Stayhonor Goodside and Mr. Gordy completed the order of finish.

“Today, when he broke from the rail, Brian got him into the perfect position on the lead and he never looked back,” Asmussen said.

First run in 1902, the Bashford Manor is named for the former Louisville Thoroughbred breeding and racing farm that dominated the American racing scene in the early 1900s. George J. Long, a wealthy foundry owner, purchased Bashford Manor Farm in 1887 and developed his Thoroughbred operation that provided him two Derby wins as an owner, 1892 (Azra) and 1906 (Sir Huon), and three as a breeder, 1892 (Azra), 1899 (Manuel) and 1906 (Sir Huon). In addition, Bashford Manor also won the Kentucky Oaks in 1894 (Selika) and 1915 (Kathleen). The original Wilder family owned Bashford Manor. The Wilders were direct descendants of Lord Baltimore, whose English home was also called Bashford Manor. Long died in 1930 and the farm was eventually sold in 1973 to make way for the development of a mall complex, fittingly named Bashford Manor, that formally closed in 2003.

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WONDER WHEEL DAZZLES IN DEBUTANTE

D J Stable’s Wonder Wheel broke alertly, went to the front and drew away down the stretch for a convincing 6 ¾-length win over Sabra Tuff in Monday’s 121st running of the $167,500 Debutante (Listed) on closing day at Churchill Downs in a solid 1:10.26 for six furlongs.

          Wonder Wheel was ridden by leading rider Tyler Gaffalione, who collected his 10th stakes win of the Spring Meet, and trained by Mark Casse.

Wonder Wheel winning the Debutante under Tyler Gaffalione. Coady Photography

          Breaking from post No. 3 in the field of seven 2-year-old fillies, Wonder Wheel emerged as the leader and was pressed by 8-5 favorite Empire of My Own down the backstretch through a quarter mile in :21.52. She kicked a couple lengths clear around the turn, crossed the half-mile marker in :45.05 and then widened her advantage under mild urging. 

The victory was worth $106,140 which increased the 2-year-old filly’s earnings to $175,600 with a perfect record in two starts. Prior to her Debutante triumph, Wonder Wheel broke her maiden at Churchill Downs on June 3 by 2 ¼ lengths.

“When I first got on her the other month I thought she could be special,” Gaffalione said. “She did everything so professionally today. She left the gates really well today and did it all on her own. The Casse team got her ready to fire a big effort today. I’m so thankful for all of the people and horses that have supported me this meet. Without them I wouldn’t be in this position today. It’s been a wonderful meet.”

          Wonder Wheel paid $5.60, $3.20 and $2.40 as the 9-5 second betting choice. Sabra Tuff, under Brian Hernandez Jr. at odds of 9-1, returned $6 and $4.60. Les Bon Temps, at 5-1 with Florent Geroux up, was another 1 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $3.60.

          It was another head back to Empire of My Own in fourth, who was followed by Eyes of Gold, Frango Electrico and Crackalacking.

          “She’s a special filly and we’re so thrilled for the Greens (of D J Stable) that they were able to be here this afternoon for this win,” said Casse’s chief Kentucky assistant trainer David Carroll. “She was very impressive in her debut and in her preparation for this race she couldn’t have been any better. She’s by Into Mischief so we were confident she’d be able to handle the extra distance.”

Wonder Wheel is out of the Tiz Wonderful mare Wonder Gal. She was bred in Kentucky by Three Chimneys Farm LLC and Clearsky Farms, and purchased as a yearling at the 2021 Keeneland September Sale for $275,000.

The Debutante, first staged in 1895 and one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races, was the second of three stakes races on Monday’s closing day card at Churchill Downs.

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CODY’S WISH DETERMINED TO FEND OFF THREE TECHNIQUE IN HANSHIN

Godolphin’s 4-year-old homebred Cody’s Wish scored a determined neck victory over Three Technique in Monday’s 40th renewal of the $173,250 Hanshin presented by JRA (Listed) at Churchill Downs.

          Cody’s Wish clocked one mile over a “fast” track in 1:34.10 under New York-based rider Junior Alvarado, who rode the winner for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Two days ago, Alvarado and Mott teamed to win the $750,000 Stephen Foster (GII) with Olympiad.

          Mish led the field of six older horses down the backstretch through splits of :23.20 and :45.61 as Cody’s Wish, the odds-on 3-5 favorite rated a length back in the clear from the outside. Cody’s Wish left the turn in front after six furlongs in 1:09.43 as Three Technique made a bold and wide closing move from last. It appeared that Three Technique poked his head in front with a furlong left to run, but Cody’s Wish was resolute and came back gamely along the inside for the narrow win.

Cody’s Wish, with Junior Alvarado up, edging Three Technique. Coady Photography

“He had to fight back today in the stretch,” Alvarado said. “(Three Technique) was really closing fast but Cody dug back in and was really determined to stay in front of him. It was special to be able to ride him back. I rode him in his debut and from that start and his last two winning the Westchester and here today he’s really matured a lot.”

The first prize was $107,070 and hiked Cody’s Wish’s bankroll to $492,130 with a record of 5-1-3 in nine starts. It was his second straight stakes win. Previously, he won the $194,000 Westchester (GIII) at Belmont Park by five lengths on May 7.

Cody’s Wish paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10. Three Technique, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, paid $7 and $4 as the 13-1 longest shot in the field. Awesome Gerry was another four lengths back in third under Gerardo Corrales and paid $4 to show at odds of 9-1.

Weyburn, Plainsman and Mish completed the order of finish. Runnin’ Ray was scratched.

Cody’s Wish is a Kentucky-bred son of Curlin out of the Tapit mare Dance Card.

“Words really can’t describe how special that was,” said Mott’s chief Kentucky assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy. “This horse, who is named after someone so special to us and the barn, Cody Dorman, showed so much heart to get the job done today. We’re just so happy to play a small part in this very special story. He had to work pretty hard today but he was determined and didn’t want to lose.”

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BASHFORD MANOR QUOTES

Brian Hernandez Jr., (jockey, Gulfport, winner) – “I think that was something very special. He really did all of that on his own. I let him break at the rail and he took me right to the front. It was extremely impressive. He’s a really nice colt and did everything so easy today.”

Steve Asmussen, (trainer, Gulfport,winner) – “We’re so grateful for all of our owners to have horses like Gulfport. He’s been extremely talented from an early stage and has shown us a lot of ability. Today, when he broke from the rail, Brian (Hernandez Jr.) got him into the perfect position on the lead and he never looked back.”

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DEBUTANTE QUOTES

Tyler Gaffalione., (jockey, Wonder Wheel, winner) – “When I first got on her the other month I thought she could be special. She did everything so professionally today. She left the gates really well today and did it all on her own. The Casse team got her ready to fire a big effort today. I’m so thankful for all of the people and horses that have supported me this meet. Without them I wouldn’t be in this position today. It’s been a wonderful meet.”

David Carroll, (assistant trainer, Wonder Wheel,winner) – “She’s a special filly and we’re so thrilled for the Greens (of D.J. Stable) that they were able to be here this afternoon for this win. She was very impressive in her debut and in her preparation for this race she couldn’t have been any better. She’s by Into Mischief so we were confident she’d be able to handle the extra distance.”

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HANSHIN QUOTES

Junior Alvarado, (jockey, Cody’s Wish, winner) – “He had to fight back today in the stretch. (Three Technique) was really closing fast but Cody dug back in and was really determined to stay in front of him. It was special to be able to ride him back. I rode him in his debut and from that start and his last two winning the Westchester and here today he’s really matured a lot.”

Kenny McCarthy, (assistant trainer, Cody’s Wish,winner) – “Words really can’t describe how special that was. This horse, who is named after someone so special to us and the barn, Cody Dorman, showed so much heart to get the job done today. We’re just so happy to play a small part in this very special story. He had to work pretty hard today but he was determined and didn’t want to lose.”

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.