03/28/2008 11:00PM

Wow Me Free goes back north a winner


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Wow Me Free arrived in New York from Canada last December winless in six stakes tries, including losses on dirt, Polytrack, and turf.

But her fortunes turned greatly running over Aqueduct's inner track this winter, and Wow Me Free will return to Canada a multiple stakes winner after taking Saturday's Grade 3, $106,400 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct by 3 1/2 lengths over Runway Rosie. The Next Move victory came 105 days after Wow Me Free won the Ladies Handicap here by a neck on Dec. 15.

Wow Me Free, a 4-year-old daughter of Menifee owned and bred by Ed Seltzer, spent the last four months in trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's New York barn after racing in Maryland for Rodney Jenkins and then at Woodbine for Danny Vella. Art Magnuson, the assistant to McLaughlin, explained that Seltzer has sent them a horse for the winter for the past few years. Magnuson said the plan is for Wow Me Free to return to Vella in Canada in the coming weeks.

"We were happy to have this filly for a few months," Magnuson said.

Magnuson said Wow Me Free developed some foot problems after her victory in the Ladies, which is why she didn't run in either the Rare Treat or Affectionately handicaps. After being equipped with a set of Polyflex shoes - which are made out of polyurethane - Wow Me Free began to train better, and she certainly ran better on Saturday.

Wow Me Free, under Alan Garcia, was last through the early stages of the race as her stablemate, Wild Hoots, ran the opening six furlongs in 1:11.88 while being stalked by Runway Rosie, the 9-5 favorite.

Wow Me Free made a strong move to contention around the far turn. Garcia got her off the rail at the three-sixteenths pole and Wow Me Free responded to a pair of smacks from Garcia's right-handed whip to blow the race open. Wow Me Free covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.86 and returned $12.20.

"I was so confident in the horse," said Garcia, who said the filly felt and looked better Saturday than in the Ladies. "Once I got her outside I said 'I'll see you all later.' "

Runway Rosie finished second by 1 3/4 lengths over Wild Hoots. Stage Luck was fourth while Cowgirls Don't Cry was eased.