Wow Me Free pulls away to win the Next Move under Alan Garcia.

Wow Me Free pulls away to win the Next Move under Alan Garcia.

Brandon Benson/ Adam Coglianese

Wow Me Free Rallies to Win Next Move H.

After a poor start, Wow Me Free captured her first graded stakes March 29 at Aqueduct

Edward Seltzer’s Wow Me Free started slowly and trailed the field around the first turn, but the poor start did little to deter the daughter of Menifee, as she took over in mid-stretch and powered to a convincing 3 ½-length victory in the $104,400 Next Move Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) March 29 at Aqueduct.

A 4-year-old Kentucky homebred, Wow Me Free completed the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:50.86 under Alan Garcia. It was her first graded stakes score and fifth win in 13 lifetime starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Race Favorite Runway Rosie finished second after briefly leading at the top of the stretch, 1 3/4 lengths in front of pacesetter Wild Hoots, who is also trained by McLaughlin. Stage Luck and the third McLaughlin trainee, Cowgirl’s Don’t Cry, completed the order of finish.

Wow Me Free spotted the field eight lengths after her poor start. Once she got going, Garcia decided to save ground, content to let Wild Hoots set early fractions of :23.33 and :47.57. Runway Rosie was in stalking position through the backstretch, while Stage Luck rated nicely in third.

Wow Me Free advanced along the rail as they went into the far turn and was in striking distance as Wild Hoots carried the field into the stretch in 1:11.88. As they straightened away Wild Hoots and Runway Rosie continued their duel, but Wow Me Free was swung wide and came roaring to the front before the sixteenth-pole. Garcia urged her to the wire for a last-to-first victory in her 4-year-old debut.

Wow Me Free entered the Next Move having not started since Dec. 15, when she won by a neck in the 1 ¼-mile Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct, her first start for McLaughlin.

“She had a couple of hiccups since her last race,” said McLaughlin’s assistant Art Magnuson.”She wasn’t moving quite as well as when she was sent down to us. She’s a pretty nice filly to run like this off the layoff. I assume she will go back up to Canada now. It was great to have her in the barn for a couple of months.”

Garcia said: “I was very confident in my filly. The first time I rode her in the Ladies, she was very skinny. She looked so much better today. I thought it was a different filly. Artie has done a great job with her. I knew I had a lot of horse coming off the turn.”

A $42,000 purchase at the 2005 Keenland September yearling sale, Wow Me Free has now earned $191,299. She is out of the With Approval mare Double Wow.

The winner returned $12.20, $5.50 and $2.70 as the fourth choice. The exacta (2-5) was worth $40.60, while the trifecta (2-5-3) netted $96.50.

(Chart, Equibase)