Updates on Saturday's Big Day

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Keith Jones

BENSALEM, Pa. (Wednesday, September 19, 2018) - Gary Barber's filly Wonder Gadot is on target to start in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion at Parx Racing according to trainer Mark Casse. The 3-year-old filly by Medaglia d' Oro will make her 10th start of the year following her last place finish against the boys in the Grade 1 Travers on August 25 at Saratoga Race Course.

The Ontario-bred owns victories in the Queen's Plate at Woodbine and the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie at 1 1/4 miles and 1 1/16 miles respectively and had the chance to capture the Canadian Triple Crown with a win in the 1 1/2 mile Breeders' Stakes on turf at Woodbine. After careful consideration which included opting to run in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga, owner Gary Barber decided to try for history and instead elected to run in the Travers. Wonder Gadot will now shorten from the Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles to the Cotillion's 1 1/16 mile distance.

"She’s doing great," Casse said. "My only concern with the race is that it’s a little bit on the short side for us, but it’s a big pot and its straight 3-year-old fillies, so we'll give it a try. She's training well."

Wonder Gadot will face top 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl for the third time in her career on Saturday after finishing third behind her in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra on February 17 at Fair Grounds Race Course, then second a half-length behind in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 4 at Churchill Downs. After a tough stretch duel between the two under the Twin Spires, Wonder Gadot's rider Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez claimed foul for alleged interference during their stretch run. The claim was disallowed, and the results stood.

With a chance for redemption, Casse is confident that his filly will be ready on Saturday and her two breezes since her Travers, a bullet 47.2 for four furlongs over a wet-fast Saratoga main track on September 6, followed by a slower 51 seconds flat at the same distance on September 14, over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga have kept her in peak form. "She went a little too fast the time before so we wanted to make sure we didn't do that again," said Casse. "I think maybe we overreacted, but she did it well. We don't have to worry about her fitness, that's for sure.

Casse added that Wonder Gadot will ship from Saratoga to Parx early Saturday morning.

Casse Undecided on Noble Commander for Gallant Bob

John Oxley's Florida-bred Noble Commander is entered to be saddled by Casse in Saturday's Grade 3, $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes, but whether he will ship to run or not remains a late decision that the trainer will make on Friday.

The Gallant Bob would be just the fourth career start for the 3-year-old son of Forestry who broke his maiden at first asking at Gulfstream on February 16, then returned to win the Ocala Breeders' Sales Sophomore Stakes by three lengths on March 25 at Tampa Bay Downs. He then set the pace and tired to third behind Parx-based winner Diamond King in the Federico Tesio on April 21 at Laurel Park.

"It's a tough race. I'm still not sure if I'm going to bring him," Casse said. "He ran well this spring. He needed some time off and he's back ready to run, but it's not easy to find a straight 3-year-old race. I looked at that race [Gallant Bob], but I don't know if he's ready to play with those boys yet. I haven't decided. I'll know on Friday."

Core Beliefs On Target for PA Derby

Gary Broad's Core Beliefs who is expected to arrive at Parx Racing this afternoon according to trainer Peter Eurton. The 3-year-old colt by Quality Road will make his seventh career start in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby after debuting for third in his first career start on January 13.

Core Beliefs owns four sharp works at Del Mar and Santa Anita respectively after his fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 29 at Monmouth Park.

"He seems like he’s doing real well," Eurton said. "His last few works have been spot on. Hopefully he likes the racetrack. I know there's been a lot of rain there. It's a talented field, but what do you expect for one million dollars right?"

Core Beliefs broke his maiden in his third start then followed up with a strong third place finish at huge odds behind eventual Triple Crown winner Justify in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7 at Santa Anita. Eurton shipped his colt East to Belmont Park where he finished second behind Blended Citizen in the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 12.

His next effort was an all-out drive to catch Lone Sailor by a nose to win the Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 23 at Thistledown. Eurton believes more than the bad break at the start of the Haskell kept him from his best effort that day.

"He got away bad, but I think he might have caught a little bit of a bug on the plane with FedEx," said Eurton. "He had a little bit of mucous after the race, a lot of dirt, and mucous, but when we got him back [to California] we found no temperature and he trained real well so we're hoping the little bit of freshening did the trick."

Eurton added that the Pennsylvania Derby will be the last start for Core Beliefs who will be given time for rest before beginning his 4-year-old season.

"He's going to get a little break after this race and then get ready for next year," He added.