Bar of Gold hoping for magical first graded win in Go for Wand
The John Kimmel-trained four-year-old enters the one-mile Go for Wand off an impressive 18-length score in the Empire Distaff Handicap going 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy, sealed surface at Belmont Park on October 22. Before that the dark bay daughter of Medaglia d’Oro just missed by a half-length when third in the Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2) sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on the synthetic Tapeta.
The versatile Bar of Gold earned her first stakes triumph in the Critical Eye Stakes over a muddy, sealed track at Big Sandy, sandwiching that win between thirds in the Bed o’ Roses Handicap (G3) and Distaff Handicap (G3). As a sophomore she ran second in the Test Stakes (G1), Prioress Stakes (G2) and Raven Run Stakes (G2).
"She doesn't want to be on the lead; she's a filly who can definitely stretch out if you don't ask her too early," Kimmel said. "She's in good shape right now.
"The wet track probably helps her, but she trains great on a dry track as well," the horseman added. "She's breezed great on dry tracks, so I'm not really worried about the conditions."
Joel Rosairo has been aboard Bar of Gold for her past pair of starts and retains the mount Saturday for NYRA’s final graded stakes of 2016.
"I always thought she had that talent level. She had a few races where she was a little unlucky and didn't have a chance to settle," Kimmel said. "Now that Joel has a handle on her, that combination should work out pretty good."
Among those lining up against Bar of Gold is Wonder Gal, the 2015 winner of the Empire Distaff who boasts four Grade 1 placings.
None of those top-level effort came this year. The Leah Gyarmati pupil placed in the 2014 editions of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Frizette Stakes (G1) before showing up last year to do the same in the Mother Goose Stakes (G1) and Acorn Stakes (G1).
Along the way Wonder Gal also captured the Lynbrook Stakes and placed in the Adirondack Stakes (G2) and Comely Stakes (G3). The four-year-old daughter of Tiz Wonderful only shows five starts thus far for 2016, with her single win coming as an 11-length romp against allowance/optional claiming rivals at Saratoga in early September.
Kendrick Carmouche will be aboard as Wonder Gal attempts to close out 2016 with a bang in the Go for Wand.
Highway Star faces graded competition for the first time in this spot after taking her last two races, including the Staten Island division of the New York Stallion Stakes series. She’s the only other stakes winner in this field.
Cayman Croc and Burn Control both try for a first stakes score here after each placed in two other attempts. Camille Claudel and High Ridge Road complete the field in the Go for Wand.
Bar of Gold and Wonder Gal photos courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography