Champ Wonder Wheel Gearing Up for Sophomore Debut

Mark Casse oversees Wonder Wheel's training in Ocala Katie Petrunyak


Every morning at 8:30 sharp, 'The Wonder Wheel Show' takes over Casse Training Center in Ocala. Just after the break, the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies champion and newly crowned Eclipse Award winner takes to a freshly groomed track and flies through her paces solo before regular training resumes.

“She gets her own set,” trainer Mark Casse said with a grin. “She's special.”

Casse's smile grew even wider Monday morning as he watched Wonder Wheel in action. After a day off on Sunday, the daughter of Into Mischief was enthusiastic about getting back to training as she tugged on the bit at a gallop.

Wonder Wheel went through her early schooling as a 2-year-old at Casse's training center and she returned to the Ocala operation following her Breeders' Cup victory. After a bit of time off, she resumed her training. Now, Casse said the D.J. Stable colorbearer is looking better than ever.

“She's training super,” he reported. “She's a tall filly. She's almost 17 hands. I think she has filled out a little bit. When you give a horse time off like we did, it takes them a little while to kind of get back in the groove. But she's in the groove.”

The champ has put in four works in Ocala this year, most recently breezing five furlongs in :59 on Jan. 25 and then going four furlongs in 48 flat last Thursday in preparation for her 3-year-old debut in Saturday's Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs.

“She had as good a work last week as I've seen her ever work,” Casse said. “And more importantly, her training has been really good coming up to this race.”

Along with fellow Casse trainee Ticker Tape Home (Medaglia d'Oro), probables for the Suncoast include Stonestreet Stables homebred Julia Shining (Curlin), who is undefeated in two starts and will be coming in off a win in the GII Demoiselle S. in December.

Casse said he hopes that on Saturday, Wonder Wheel and Tyler Gaffalione can perhaps find a happy medium between their come-from-behind Breeders' Cup performance and the prior wire-to-wire victory in the GI Darley Alcibiades S.

“I think normally if she breaks running, Tyler will have her fairly close,” he explained. “But as she showed in the Breeders' Cup, she can do a little bit of anything.”

According to Casse, Wonder Wheel's road to the GI Kentucky Oaks after the Suncoast will go through Lexington for the GI Ashland S.

Casse has always been enthusiastic in his praise for the big bay, comparing her to the likes of Wonder Gadot, Classic Empire and War of Will as early as last August in Saratoga ahead of her runner-up effort in the GI Spinaway S. (TDN story here). Now that Wonder Wheel has given Casse his sixth Breeders' Cup victory, he remains unwavering in his faith in the talented filly.

“She may be one of the best horses I've ever trained,” he said. “But I don't want to get too far ahead. Let's see how she does going from two to three. We're going to let her do the talking.”

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link

Liked this article? Read more like this.

  1. Lord North Treads A Familiar Path
  2. Pounce Tops Fasig-Tipton February Digital Sale
  3. Breeders' Cup Late Foal Nomination Deadline Feb. 28
  4. Resolute Bloodstock Purchases Caravel, To Visit Frankel in 2024
  5. Breeders' Cup Tickets On Sale April 22

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.