Wicked Whisper, Bravo Team Up For Miss Preakness Stakes Victory

Winless since her victory in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park nearly one year ago, Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Wicked Whisper got a ground-saving trip from Joe Bravo, came off the rail at the furlong pole, then ran down frontrunning Ain’t No Elmers to win Saturday’s Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.

Ain’t No Elmers finished second, beaten one length after setting all the fractions, with Sound Machine third, another three-quarters of a length back, and 1-2 favorite Mundaye Call fourth in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies.

Wicked Whisper ran the six furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.36 and paid $12.60 for the win, her third in six career starts.

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Trained by Steve Asmussen, Wicked Whisper is from the first crop by Liam’s Map out of the Bernardini mare Zayanna. She was bred in Kentucky by Siena Farms and sold for $500,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Fly On Angel and Angel Cruz broke on top, but Gabriel Saez sent Ain’t No Elmers through on the inside to take command in the run down the backstretch, the opening quarter mile in :23.08. Wicked Whisper sat just behind the top pair on the inside after a half mile in :45.78, awaiting racing room as the field turned into the stretch.

A patient Bravo swung Wicked Whisper off the rail when seeing an opening after five furlongs in :57.97, and the Liam’s Map filly took command from Ain’t No Elmers in the final sixteenth of a mile to win going away.

“You just can’t draw them up to be any better than that,” said Bravo. “She broke good. The only thing I was really told was ‘make sure you pay attention to her leaving the gate. She’s been having trouble getting away from there.’ When she broke so cleanly it was like the pressure got off me. She was able to breathe around the turn. I know the ‘5’ horse (Mundaye Call) is a very good filly, but all horses relaxed and it just gave me all the confidence.”

Mundaye Call raced in the clear to the outside of Wicked Whisper for the opening three furlongs, made a three-wide bid on the turn and lacked any stretch punch.

Wicked Whisper captured the 2019 Frizette after a stylish debut at Saratoga, winning a maiden special weight race by 6 1/4 lengths. She ran fifth at 7-2 in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to wrap up her 2019 campaign, then finished a well-beaten fourth going seven furlongs in the G3 Beaumont Stakes on July 10 in her 2020 debut at Keeneland. Wicked Whisper ran a good second to Fly On Angel in most recent start, the G3 Charles Town Oaks on Aug. 28, then returned to the Asmussen stable in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to train up to the Miss Preakness.

“She’s been definitely interrupted by this year’s racing calendar,” said Asmussen. “She was getting ready late for things and then with the cancellations, we got off track. It’s beautiful to see her show the quality that she’s always had. Joe gave her a great trip today. There are big things in her future.”

Trainer Bret Calhoun said the inside post position did not work in Ain’t No Elmers’ favor.

“It probably wasn’t the best post to have, but she ran great and did everything to win,” Calhoun said. “She got pressed the whole way and that’s the difference between an inside and outside post and being a presser instead of a pressee.”