Swinging wide on the outside as part of a cavalry charge at the head of the stretch, 3-1 shot Wild Gams made a huge move under jockey Ramon Dominguez to win the $300,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Keeneland Oct. 6.
The 4-year-old daughter of Forest Wildcat was well behind the frontrunners, leading only two horses in the 10-horse field as Hot Storm and Lady Belsara hooked up to lead through quick early fractions of :21.96 and :45.26. They ran five-eighths in :58.48, and heading into the turn, Mary Delaney moved up to second. The Eddie Kenneally-trained filly couldn’t quite get there, however, as the field stretched out across the track for the stretch run.
Taken to the outside by Dominuez, Wild Gams found another gear and cleared her competitors by 1 1/4 lengths as she flew under the finish line, running six furlongs in 1:10 flat. Sugar Swirl was second, while Baroness Thatcher got up for third.
“We’re real happy with the way she ran,” said trainer Ben Perkins, Jr. “We gave her the summer off. She had some issues, but she seemed to come back real well.
“When we handicapped it, it looked like there was a good amount of speed and the track helped because the horses were coming from off of (the pace). There's a nice, long stretch here, too. I told Ramon to be patient because when she kicks, she has a really good kick. He rode her perfectly.”
“I was able to get great trip,” said Dominguez. “At the eighth pole I was following the three horse (Sugar Swirl) and I was able to get out. She really ran a great race. She seemed to handle this surface good.”
A New Jersey homebred from Everett "Ebby" Novak’s New Farm, Wild Gams is out of the Quiet American mare Diamonds and Legs. She came into the race off a second-place performance in the inaugural Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes Sept. 15. Before that effort, she had not raced since May. Her career record is now 7-3-1 from 16 starts.
Regarding the Breeders’ Cup, Perkins said a start would be under consideration for the filly. “We'll see how she comes off of (this race),” he said. “We'll certainly think about it. (Because she’s a New Jersey-bred), she'll be there anyway.”
Wild Gams will be offered by Novak in Keeneland's November breeding stock sale as hip #26 consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.