Wonder Wheel is the champion 2-year-old filly of 2022.
By Frank Angst
As trainer Mark Casse watched Wonder Wheel improve as spring turned to fall, he couldn’t resist sharing the encouraging progress of the 2-year-old filly—even comparing her precocity with that of 2016 champion 2-year-old male Classic Empire.
“I put some pressure on myself, and sometimes I would ask myself, ‘Why did I do that,'” Casse said after this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). “But I tell people the way I feel.”
Voting for 2-year-old filly: Wonder Wheel, 240; Hoosier Philly, 3; Meditate, 2; Julia Shining, 1.
The pressure most assuredly was off Casse after watching Wonder Wheel rally from 11th early to win the Juvenile Fillies Nov. 4 at Keeneland.
The victory completed a season in which the daughter of four-time leading sire Into Mischief —Wonder Gal , by Tiz Wonderful , won four of five starts and finished second in the one race she didn’t win. After rolling to a maiden special weight win on June 3 at Churchill Downs, Wonder Wheel captured the Debutante Stakes there. In her next start, Wonder Wheel would finish second to Leave No Trace in the Spinaway Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course before closing out the year with back-to-back grade 1 wins at Keeneland as her Breeders’ Cup score followed a victory in the Alcibiades Stakes there.
In those season-closing wins, Wonder Wheel showed versatility. She delivered a front-end score in the Alcibiades, holding off Chop Chop. Then in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies she rallied from 11th to post a three-length triumph over Leave No Trace. Guided by Tyler Gaffalione, the 10 horses passed is the most by any Juvenile Fillies winner since Stardom Bound rallied from 12th to win the 2008 edition of the race.
Wonder Wheel is campaigned by Jon and Len Green’s D. J. Stable. In partnership with Cash is King, the Green family’s D. J. Stable also captured this divisional championship in 2018 with Jaywalk.
Bred in Kentucky by Three Chimneys Farm and Clearsky Farms, Wonder Wheel improved on her dam’s accomplishments. At 2 Wonder Gal earned placings in the Frizette Stakes (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. A multiple black-type stakes winner, Wonder Gal at 3 placed in the 2015 Mother Goose (G1) and Acorn (G1) stakes.
The other two finalists for champion juvenile filly this year were WellSpring Stables’ Leave No Trace and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) winner Meditate, who is campaigned by the Coolmore-affiliated partners Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Westerberg.