Racing News

Arienza expected in Fantasy

  • Arienza is in search of graded earnings to assure a spot in the Oaks (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

Robert and Lawana Low's royally-bred ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway) now seems poised to take on the challenge of Sunday's Fantasy S. (G2), according to trainer Danny Peitz.

"It almost seems like we have to do it," Peitz said Thursday morning. "She's doing fine and I wouldn't do it if she wasn't, and with just a couple horses going, it seems like the right move."

The other newsmaker already lined up for the Fantasy is JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit), an 8 3/4-length winner of the Honeybee S. (G3) at this track and 1 1/16-mile distance on March 12.

Peitz has been reluctant to commit to the Fantasy because it comes just two weeks after Arienza won her second career race and her first test around two turns. With regal breeding as the daughter of champions Giant's Causeway and three-time Apple Blossom (G1) winner Azeri, stakes races are clearly in her future, but Peitz does not want to rush things. Arienza only began her career March 6 with a snappy six-furlong victory.

Peitz eyed the Instant Racing S. on April 16 as an option that would give his filly an extra week to recover and still be three weeks from the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs, but a full field is a possibility there. Graded stakes earnings help determine eligibility, and the Instant Racing would not help secure a spot in an over-subscribed field. With a small group gathering for the Fantasy, Peitz sees an easy path to those all-important graded earnings.

Rival trainers have been complimentary of the two-for-two filly, including the father-son team of Don and Donnie K. Von Hemel, the latter trainer of HEARTS ON FIRE (Lion Heart), who is likely for the Instant Racing because Arienza and Joyful Victory appear so imposing. Most have focused on Arienza's mom, the 2002 Horse of the Year, but Peitz returned compliments to the Von Hemels for their association with Arienza's granddam on her sire's side, Mariah's Storm, whom they trained to multiple stakes wins.

"Donnie was joking about talking me into the Instant Racing because obviously he'd like to go in the Fantasy," Peitz said. "He and everybody keeps saying the Azeri in her is going to come out. I said to Donnie, 'maybe it's that grandmom that's coming out.' She was such a good mare and they did such a good job with her, and it wouldn't be a surprise if that was part of what my filly may become."

Mariah's Storm won the Arlington-Washington Lassie (G2) in 1993 but fractured a cannon bone in the Alcibiades S. (G1). She was able to return from that injury and win seven more stakes as a three- and four-year-old. The Walt Disney film Dreamer was loosely based on Mariah's Storm and her comeback from that injury.  Mariah's Storm has produced several stakes-caliber runners and stallions, led by Giant's Causeway, the European champion and runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) in 2000.