Next strides mapped out for `Wonder'

Handlers lean toward `Youth' for Triple Crown prospect

Horse Racing

January 18, 2008|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun reporter

Nearly six months after Wonder Mon's first career win and two weeks after his second, his connections continue to be excited about the 3-year-old's Triple Crown prospects.

Trainer Gary Capuano and co-owners Foard Wilgis and Dave Picarello said they are looking at Florida and New York as possibilities for the next test for the son of Marias Mon.

Capuano, who took Captain Bodgit to the Kentucky Derby in 1997, said he is considering the Feb. 2 Whirlaway Stakes, which covers 1 1/16 miles at Aqueduct, or the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 24, run over 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park.

"We have to try him pretty soon against those caliber [top 3-year-old] horses," Capuano said. "He's raced two times and won two times. He had a long layoff between races and came back to step up to the challenge. The allowance race wasn't the strongest competition, but the way he won was very impressive."

Wonder Mon is a big colt who gave the impression in his first race that he would be a closer when he came from 15 lengths off the pace to win at Laurel Park. But Jan. 2, in a two-turn allowance race over 1 1/16 miles at Laurel, he demonstrated a different talent.

"He broke real well and was near the leaders the whole way," Wilgis said. "I know he can run all night long. The Kentucky Derby distance is not a question with this horse. But when I saw him going to the front at the start, I thought, `What is [jockey Travis] Dunkelberger doing?' But he opened him up at the 16th pole, stopped riding him and won by six. He just galloped home.

"We're definitely going to find out what this big boy can do."

The team, which operates under the name of ZWP Stables, is leaning toward the Fountain of Youth in Florida.

"If we take him to New York, then we'd have to bring him back here and then ship him to Florida later," Wilgis said. "I think it is too much. Whatever Gary decides is what we'll do, but I think I'd rather take him directly to Florida and get a race in him on that track and then run him in the Fountain of Youth."

Capuano said he'll decide within 10 days.

Wilgis said that since the allowance race, he has been getting calls from people trying to buy his homebred.

"It's nice to talk to people with money when you have something they want," said Wilgis, who has already had one Preakness horse in Cherokee's Boy, who now stands at the Maryland Stallion Station.

"But it would take, well, millions to take him from me. I tell people he's not for sale, that I've invested three years in him and he's like my family. And who knows what he can be? It's really more exciting to keep him and find out."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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