05/04/2016 10:56AM

Eighth Wonder returns from layoff in Parx Oaks

Barbara Weidl/EQUI-PHOTO
Eighth Wonder makes her first start of 2016 in the Parx Oaks on Saturday.

Last fall, the Mid-Atlantic-based 2-year-old fillies Behrnik’s Bank, Cathryn Sophia, Eighth Wonder, and Lucy N Ethel put together powerful victories during a short period of time. Cathryn Sophia went on to take a pair of Grade 2s in Florida and is scheduled to run in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks. Lucy N Ethel later took down the Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park.

Eighth Wonder, on the other hand, was given the winter off in South Carolina by trainer Dee Curry and owner-breeder Jeff Bowen. She will return to the races Saturday in the $100,000 Parx Oaks.

The Derby Day card at Parx, the track’s best of the season, also includes two other $100,000 stakes, the Parx Derby and My Juliet, plus four allowance or optional races. With a herpesvirus quarantine ongoing at Parx, the card is made up almost entirely of locally based horses.

Eighth Wonder is 3 for 3 with earnings of $126,000. She has easily won a maiden race, an allowance, and the Donna Fryer, a South Carolina residency stakes – all at Parx. Nobody has come within five lengths of her.

Eighth Wonder is the sixth and final foal out of the mare Cheeksandpeanuts, who died when Eighth Wonder was a weanling. Her offspring have a lot in common. They are all winners, have earned at least $75,000, and, according to Curry, who has trained each of them, “They’re all nervous; they have behavioral issues.”

So, while Eighth Wonder was impressive as a 2-year-old, she also was something of a problem child. According to Curry, Eighth Wonder made a lot of progress over the winter.

“Physically, she’s filled out and gotten taller,” Curry said. “Mentally, she is much, much more stable. I’ve seen a big improvement in her training. She will walk for you and relax a lot more in the mornings.”

But Curry does have concerns coming into Saturday’s race.

Eighth Wonder stayed in South Carolina longer than planned when the racing surface at Parx was closed for an extended period of time this winter as the installation of a new safety rail dragged on and repairs were made to the base of the track along the inside. Because of the delay and the herpes quarantine, Curry was unable to get Eighth Wonder a prep race prior to the Parx Oaks.

Eighth Wonder, who is very fast, will make her first start since November and her first beyond 6 1/2 furlongs in Saturday’s mile-and-70-yard race.

“The plan was to run her back in an allowance, the first time going short, and then to run in this stakes,” Curry said. “This being her first time back, I know she’s going to be sharp.”

To prepare Eighth Wonder for the Parx Oaks, Curry has twice worked her six furlongs.

“I’ve been trying to get that distance in her,” Curry said. “I’ve given her a couple of long breezes with good gallop-outs. I’ve thrown some long gallops into her.”

When Eighth Wonder loads into the gate Saturday, Curry, Bowen, and the filly’s regular rider, Jose Flores, will all be hoping for the best.

“We are taking a shot going two turns first time back, but there is nowhere else to run,” Curry said. “I wish I could have gotten a race into her, but we’re very excited to have her back.”