Updated on 09/17/2011 10:28AM

Just Wonder takes Ascot

Vassar Photo
Just Wonder ($3.80) rallies to win the $100,000 Ascot Handicap at Bay Meadows.

SAN MATEO, Calif. - Odds-on favorite Just Wonder ($3.80) sat near the back of the pack, swung out wide for room nearing the quarter pole and unleashed a strong rally to win the $100,000 Ascot Handicap at Bay Meadows on Saturday.

Just Wonder was still sixth, four lengths behind dueling pacesetters Obermeister and Rapier Dance at the quarter pole but ran the final 3/16 of the 1 1/16-mile turf race in 30.41 seconds. He beat Rapier Dance by two lengths with a final clocking of 1:42.63. Rapier Dance won a stretch duel with Obermeister to take second by a head.

"I could have waited longer," winning jockey Russell Baze said. "When I cut him loose, he really motored on the lead. He would have opened up more, but he was kinda looking around in the stretch."

Obermeister, making his turf and route debut after being claimed for $8,000 two starts back, proved game as he opened an early lead. Rapier Dance headed him in the stretch before Just Wonder roared past them, and the two battled gamely to the wire while no match for the winner. Direct Male finished fourth 2 1/2 lengths farther back.

Just Wonder, purchased after a win and a second in France, proved too tough for his rival 3-year-olds.

"He's an easy horse to ride," Baze said. "I had a lot of horse the whole way. When they started to run on the turn I just flicked my wrists, and he kept right with them."

Trainer Laura de Seroux was saddling Total Impact for his victory in the Mervyn LeRoy at Hollywood Park while the Ascot was being run.

"I heard Russell rode him perfectly," she said. "The horse accomplished just what I wanted.

"I know that's what this horse is. I know what happened last time (when he broke slowly in the La Puente), and I shouldn't have tried him on the dirt (in the San Rafael)."

De Seroux said Just Wonder would now be pointed to the 1 1/8-mile $200,000 Grade 3 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap on the turf June 29 at Hollywood Park.

Just Wonder earned $55,000 for his third victory - and first stakes win - in six starts and now has career earnings of $108,997.