Clearview Stable’s Ever So Clever proved best by 1 3/4 lengths on Friday at Oaklawn Park in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3), the final points race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series.
The win awarded the Steve Asmussen trainee 100 points toward a starting berth in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks and boosted her from 29th on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard all the way to third with 106 total points.
Jockey Luis Contreras piloted the dark bay daughter of Medaglia d’Oro as she finished 1 1/16 miles over Oaklawn’s fast main track in 1:43.40. Sent off at 15-1, she returned $33.60 for her first stakes victory.
Chanel’s Legacy led the way in the race but was run down by Ever So Clever in the lane. Previously 19th on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 11 points – earned for finishing fourth in the Delta Downs Princess (G3) last year and capturing the Martha Washington Stakes this season – Chanel’s Legacy moved up to 10th with 51 total points.
Vexatious entered the Fantasy boasting 20 points thanks to a third-placing in her stakes bow last out, the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). She filled the same spot here and moved up to 16th on the Leaderboard with 40 points and will need some defections to make the Kentucky Oaks field.
Torrent completed the top four under the wire and took home 10 points. She’s now 22nd on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 12 total points.
Benner Island, My Sweet Stella, Spooky Woods, Dutch Parrot, Conquest Bandido, Drinks on Broadway, Kell Paso and Conquest Slayer rounded out the order of finish for the Fantasy.
Ever So Clever broke her maiden at first asking last July 1 at Churchill Downs, was off-the-board in the Adirondack Stakes (G2) at Saratoga and filled the runner-up spot in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) back under the Twin Spires. She captured an allowance at Keeneland and closed out her juvenile campaign with a third-placing in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill.
Bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms, Ever So Clever finished fifth in the Martha Washington and Honeybee Stakes (G3), her only other races this year. She now boasts a 8-3-1-1 line to go along with $377,850 in career earnings.
Ever So Clever is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Foxy Danseur, who was a multiple Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner on track, and counts as half-siblings stakes-placed winners Tathqeef and Miss Centerfold. Her fourth dam is Grade 1 vixen Personal Business.
Steve Asmussen, trainer Ever So Clever, winner
“Right here, I was ‘Keep coming, mama. Keep coming.’
“(Jockey) Luis (Contreras) gave her a perfect trip. Nice filly. Nice filly. The filly broke fine from the 12 hole. He made an immediate decision, got over. She was probably only 6-7 off the lead around the first turn, two-wide and carrying him well. I thought it made the difference in the race.
“I felt very good about how the filly trained and that he had ridden her before. I felt we had a lot more horse going into today.”
You seemed extremely happy
“The filly has a great personality, and we’ve always felt this way about her. And for her now to win a nice graded stakes is what she deserves.”
Kentucky Oaks, we assume?
“She’s going to Churchill Monday and it’s fun to have her there.”
Luis Contreras, jockey Ever So Clever, winner
“She felt great today. The last time I got an opportunity to ride her, she finished fifth. I learned a lot and (trainer) Steve (Asmussen) gave me some advice about the filly, how she likes to run. We got everything perfect today. From the time we broke, she did everything by herself. I just waited, got patient and kicked in at the quarter pole, and she gave me everything.”
Did you feel like you could run the leader down?
“Once I started making my move, I wasn’t worried about anybody in the race. I just went with the momentum and enjoyed the last part of the race.”
You seemed pretty excited
“Oh, that was great. This is special for me.”
Alex Birzer, jockey Chanel’s Legacy, second
”Yeah she just ran a big race, had a little more time in between races this go and she just ran a big race. They (did) an excellent job getting her ready for this. Wasn't necessarily planning on going, but you just can't see what happens and nobody else really went. They let me nurse a nice little lead; she ran a big race.”
Lynn Chleborad, trainer Chanel’s Legacy, second
“She tried so hard. I'm so proud of her. It was a nail bitter right down to the wire. I thought Alex did a great job backing them up. I'm proud of the whole team, the horse. It's exciting.”
Allen Poindexter, owner Chanel’s Legacy, second
“Oh, second was great. Forty points (toward Kentucky Oaks berth). I don’t know what to say.”
Kent Desormeaux, jockey Vexatious, third
“She ran a much improved race, but I had to do a lot of altering of course and I was beaten a lip for second.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., jockey Benner Island, fifth
“I won’t make an excuse. We were in a perfect spot in first turn and in second turn we were in a perfect spot and she got a little tired.”
Brad Cox, trainer Benner Island, fifth
“She was in a great position. I don’t know. She didn’t have the answer today. He had her in a perfect spot. I honestly don’t know. Disappointed. It’s a roller-coaster game, and most of the time the roller-coaster is going down.”