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In a Winchell-Asmussen-Gaffalione Double, Wicked Halo, Gunite Romp to Stakes Victories

October 23, 2022

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Wicked Halo swept to the front at the top of the stretch and breezed to a 4-length victory in the 24th running of the $350,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2) for 3-year-old fillies Saturday afternoon.

About 90 minutes earlier, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Gunite cruised to a 3 3/4-length victory in the 14th running of the $250,000 Perryville (L) for 3-year-olds. 

Steve Asmussen trains both runners, and Tyler Gaffalione rode both winners.

The victory was the third of the afternoon for Asmussen and gave Gaffalione a second Lexus Raven Run victory to go with the 2018 triumph on Shamrock Rose.

In the Lexus Raven Run, Smash Ticket and Freedom Speaks led the field of nine through fractions of :22.73 and :46.09 with Wicked Halo racing in the three path just off the flank of Freedom Speaks.

Midway on the far turn, Wicked Halo drew on even terms with the leaders. By the time the field reached the top of the stretch, she had a clear advantage and raced to the finish under no pressure.

Wicked Halo completed the 7 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:24.30 to notch her third graded stakes victory and fifth overall.

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Gun Runner out of the Tapit mare Just Wicked, Wicked Halo improved her record to 10-6-0-3 in winning her fourth consecutive start. Saturday’s victory was worth $206,150 and increased her earnings to $780,200.

Wicked Halo returned $7.04, $3.82 and $2.66 as the favorite in the field of nine. Fingal’s Cave rallied for second under Joel Rosario and returned $5.16 and $3.74. She finished a neck in front of Midnight Stroll, who paid $3.56 to show under Luis Saez.

It was another 3¾ lengths back to Freedom Speaks, who was followed in order by Last Leaf, Smash Ticket, Colorful Mischief, Republique and Union Lake.

Gunite takes Perryville

In the Perryville, Gunite sat just off the pace set by Provocateur and Of a Revolution through fractions of :22.38 and :45.82 and began to close in on the far turn. By the time the field hit the top of the stretch, Gunite had a clear advantage and never was threatened in the run through the lane.

Gunite covered the 7 furlongs on a fast main track in a stakes-record 1:23.21. It is the second victory in the race for Asmussen, who won with Nashville in 2020.

Gunite is a Kentucky-bred son of Gun Runner out of the Cowboy Cal mare Simple Surprise. It was the fifth stakes victory for Gunite, whose resume boasts a victory in last year’s Hopeful (G1) and this year’s Amsterdam (G2), both at Saratoga.

Gunite now has a record of 12-6-4-1 and with Saturday’s winner’s check of $151,125 boosted his earnings to $965,934.

Gunite returned $3.24, $2.58 and $2.10. Hoist the Gold, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., took second and returned $12 and $6.42. He finished 3 lengths in front of B Dawk, who paid $3.30 to show under Joel Rosario.

It was another 3¾ lengths back to Artorius with Frair Laurence, Of a Revolution and Provocateur following in order.