A field of eight has been entered in Friday’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
The 1 1/16-mile event wraps up the 2017-18 Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of races. As part of the Championship portion of that series, the contest will award 100-40-20-10 points to the respective top four finishers, ensuring a spot in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs to the winner.
Cosmic Burst and Amy’s Challenge are each looking to secure the majority of the points up for grabs on Friday. The former is currently 10th on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 52 total points, while the latter sits in 17th boasting only 20 points. The Kentucky Oaks is limited to 14 starters.
Cosmic Burst earned the bulk of her points taking the Honeybee Stakes (G3) last out on March 10 at Oaklawn by 1 3/4 lengths over Amy’s Challenge. The Donnie Von Hemel pupil entered that contest off a third-place run while making her sophomore bow in the February 10 Martha Washington Stakes. That was the Violence filly’s first loss since breaking her maiden last October at Keeneland, which she followed with an allowance/optional claiming victory at Churchill Downs a month later and then the Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park to conclude 2018.
Richard Eramia has been aboard Cosmic Burst ever since her 5 1/4-length romp in the Trapeze and retains the mount on Friday.
Amy’s Challenge suffered her first career loss when second in the Honeybee. It was also her first time going farther than six furlongs for trainer Robertson McLean. The dark bay daughter of Artie Schiller dominated her maiden by 16 lengths sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs last August, then showed up in the six-furlong Shakopee Juvenile Stakes to score by three parts of a length in September. Both of those efforts came against the boys at Canterbury Park, and Amy’s Challenge faced straight fillies for the initial time making her three-year-old debut a neck triumph in the six-furlong Dixie Belle Stakes on January 20.
The Kentucky-bred lass opened up a clear lead in the Honeybee while stretching out to 1 1/16 miles but tired in the lane, allowing Cosmic Burst to secure the win. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith takes the mount on Amy’s Challenge from Jareth Loveberry, who had ridden the filly in her four career starts thus far.
Sassy Sienna is also exiting the Honeybee, rallying for third on the wire while beaten three lengths by Cosmic Burst. The Brad Cox trainee opened her three-year-old season with a 9 1/2-length win against allowance/optional claiming rivals at the track on January 15 and tried to lead all the way home in the Martha Washington before settling for second, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
The Midshipman filly didn’t show much as a juvenile, breaking her maiden on the turf at Indiana Grand before suffering four straight definitive losses. The last of those came as a fifth, beaten 13 lengths, in the Trapeze Stakes, but Sassy Sienna seems to have turned a corner this year under jockey Gary Stevens, who holds the reins once again on Friday.
A surprise entrant in the Fantasy is Wonder Gadot, who wheels back off the three-week break after finishing third by three parts of a length in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on March 24. The Medaglia d’Oro filly is looking for her first win of the year, having missed by only a neck when second in the Silverbulletday Stakes on January 13 and filled the third spot in both the February 17 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) and Fair Grounds Oaks.
All three of those starts came at Fair Grounds, and trainer Mark Casse shipped the dark bay miss to Oaklawn for a shot at this contest. Wonder Gadot, who currently shows 44 points to be 11th on the Oaks Leaderboard, closed out her juvenile campaign with a 3 3/4-length score in Aqueduct’s Demoiselle Stakes (G2) going the Kentucky Oaks distance of 1 1/8 miles. She’s suffered just one unplaced run from eight career starts, with that coming as a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last November at Del Mar, and gets a jockey switch to David Cabrera in this one.
Harbor Lights and Tahoe Dream both enter the Fantasy following wins. The Steve Asmussen-trained Harbor Lights captured an allowance/optional claimer over track and distance on March 15. Ricardo Santana Jr. was aboard that day and stays in the saddle. In addition to Amy’s Challenge, McLean will also saddle Tahoe Dream in the Fantasy. The Afleet Alex miss broke her maiden over track and distance on March 8 and returned three weeks later to secure a neck victory against allowance/optional claiming rivals going a mile on the muddy, sealed track. Alex Canchari has the call.
Completing the Fantasy field are Princess Warrior, third but beaten 11 lengths in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on March 31, and Bo Peep, fifth in the Honeybee last out.