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Arienza cruises into Fantasy picture
Robert and Lawana Low's regally-bred filly ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway) stamped herself a serious contender for the April 10 Fantasy S. (G2) with an impressive front-running victory in a one-mile allowance at Oaklawn Park on Sunday. The daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year and three-time Apple Blossom (G1) winner Azeri remained undefeated after two career starts, winning the 10TH race by 2 1/2 lengths over Hidatsa (Proud Citizen).
The Danny Peitz filly had been the favorite for Saturday's six-furlong Prima Donna S., but scratched in favor of Sunday's two-turn race. As the heavy 1-2 choice, she returned $3.00, $2.20 and $2.10. Her winning time over the wet-fast track was 1:38.
"Early on she wasn't as relaxed as I would have liked," Peitz said. "I'm glad that (jockey Gabriel Saez) took her to the front. I'd have been more concerned if he'd have had her inside with a couple horses surrounding her. I wish I could have seen the fractions because it looked like she was clicking along pretty good. I was glad to see that."
Arienza carved out splits of :23 3/5, :48 and 1:13 1/5 and pulled away under good handling, with apparently something in reserve.
"I told (Saez) that if she runs like I hope she does, to try and save a little in the tank in case we want to come back in two weeks," Peitz said. "He didn't have to hit her and it looks like he tried to do that -- to leave something in the tank."
Saez arrived only a short time before the race after riding at Turfway Park in Kentucky Saturday because of mechanical problems with a connecting flight.
"She broke neatly and I just tried to keep her nice and relaxed the whole way," Saez said. "I never had to ask her at all. Maybe a little bit turning for home, but I was just really confident. She acts like a nice filly. I just thank God I was able to get here to ride her."
The storm that rolled through Hot Springs, Arkansas, just as the 7TH race was underway included several lightning strikes that knocked out power to the toteboard. The electrical problems disrupted wagering for a short time leading up to the 8TH race and forced track officials to hand-time the final three races on the program.