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Joyful Victory, Arienza square off in Fantasy
Sunday's $300,000 Fantasy S. (G2) is far from a compelling wagering affair with only four betting interests, but the sporting aspect of the 1 1/16-mile test for three-year-old fillies at Oaklawn Park should still give hard-core players a reason to watch as the Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep pits Honeybee S. (G3) winner JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit) against the blue-blooded stakes newcomer ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway).
A stepping-stone toward divisional championships for Rachel Alexandra and Blind Luck (Pollard's Vision) the last two seasons, the Fantasy has also been kind to Fox Hill Farm, the owner of Joyful Victory, which celebrated wins in 2005 with Round Pond and the 2008 edition with the ill-fated Eight Belles.
Joyful Victory could give them a third with a repeat of the Honeybee, a tour de force performance that saw the gray lass streak home by 8 3/4 lengths as the 1-2 favorite. A debut winner at two, Joyful Victory was third in the Frizette S. (G1) in her next start before finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Much improved now, she again will be guided by Mike Smith.
Arienza has kept her family's perfect record over the Oaklawn strip intact after two trips to the winner's circle this meet. A daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri (Jade Hunter), who won three consecutive runnings of the Apple Blossom H. (G1), Arienza won her six-furlong debut by 2 1/2 lengths on March 6, then came back to win by the same margin against first-level allowance foes over a mile on March 27. Trainer Danny Peitz has no reservations about testing the lightly-raced filly in such a short period of time.
"It almost seems like we have to do it," Peitz said this week. "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."
Martha Washington S. winner HOLY HEAVENS (Holy Bull) and the Arkansas-bred EXPLOSIVE DISCO (Explosive Truth) will form a coupled entry. The former was second best in the Honeybee and will need to elevate her game to make amends against Joyful Victory. The latter was seven lengths third to Arienza in the aforementioned allowance and runs with blinkers for the first time.
The field is rounded out by JELLY CABLE (Sky Mesa), a Kentucky shipper who finished third in the Valdale S. at Turfway Park last out. She will be racing on dirt for the first time in her third career start.