TORONTO, September 11, 2022 – It wasn’t a particularly memorable start, but it turned out to be an unforgettable finish for Sister Seagull, who rallied to win the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes, third leg of the Triple Tiara, Sunday at Woodbine.
The 1 ¼-mile grass test for 3-year-old fillies foaled in Canada saw Sister Seagull steadied slightly heading into the first bend, but when crunch time arrived, the Catherine Day Phillips trainee was in full flight down the E.P. Taylor Turf Course stretch.
Strega broke sharply and was sent to the front with Swoop to Finish, one of two (Whimsical Dance) Sam-Son runners picking up the chase in second, followed by Devil’s Bit, Keep It Neat, Sister Seagull and Whimsical Dance.
The first quarter, in :26.27, saw Strega holding a half-length lead over Swoop to Finish, as the running order remained mostly unchanged through a half in :51.69.
After reaching three-quarters, Swoop to Finish began to ratchet up the pressure on the leader, as Antonio Gallardo, aboard Sister Seagull, gave the daughter of Hard Spun-Sweet Kitten her cue.
The chestnut came off the final turn needing to track down Swoop to Finish, who continued to run determinedly to the inside. Sister Seagull eventually got onto even terms with her rival and wore down that gutsy foe to record a one-length triumph in 2:04.65 over firm going. Devil’s Bit was third and Whimsical Dance fourth.
“I had to check just a little bit,” said Gallardo, of the less-than-ideal start. “But thank God it’s one mile and a quarter because you have plenty of time to figure out and pull everything together again. She’s a nice filly. I liked her more today because of the distance. It’s perfect for her. I feel like she’s more on the bridle on the turf. Today, everything was beautiful… really easy today.”
Bred by Sean Fitzhenry, who co-owns with his wife Dorothy, it was the second straight score and third in the last four attempts for Sister Seagull.
With the Wonder Where win, it gave the filly’s connections two triumphs in the Triple Tiara. After a second in the first leg, the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser on July 24, Sister Seagull took the middle leg, the Bison City, on August 14.
She now sports a record of 3-1-1 from eight starts.
“That was exciting,” said Sean. “I figured the long stretch would help her and it did. It’s [winning two legs of the Triple Tiara] a testament to what we do with our broodmares. It’s a good source of pride.”
As it was for Day Phillips, who was celebrating her wedding anniversary with husband Todd Phillips on Sunday.
The multiple graded stakes winning trainer felt the Wonder Where distance would be beneficial for her sophomore star.
“She’s always acted like she wants to go further. Her breeding suggests turf. But she’s had two tough races coming into this, so that was a little bit of a concern. She’s not a big, strong filly. If you see her, she looks bigger when she’s coming to the wire than she does standing beside her. She just is all heart. I’m so proud of her.”
Sister Seagull returned $7.90, $4.60 and $3.20, combining with Swoop to Finish ($4.90, $3.40) for a $41.80 exactor. Devil’s Bit ($5.90) completed a $322.30 triactor. Whimsical Dance rounded out a $1 superfecta that returned $597.90.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms