A dozen sophomore fillies will line up on Friday for their chance at the final 170 points being offered toward a starting berth for the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
The $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) rounds out the 2017 Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and has attracted a competitive crowd, including some who are being wheeled back off just a couple weeks rest.
Benner Island is the 5-2 morning-line favorite following her runner-up effort in the Honeybee Stakes (G3) over the track and 1 1/16-mile distance. The Brad Cox trainee shows two wins thus far, taking her maiden debut last August at Indiana Grand and romping in an allowance/optional claimer at Churchill Downs to close out her juvenile campaign.
Benner Island opened this season with a one-paced sixth in the Martha Washington Stakes but rebounded in a big way to rally for second in the Honeybee. She actually had the lead in the stretch but was just caught by It Tiz Well, who returned to be third in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) on April 8. Ricardo Santana Jr. has the call on Benner Island for the first time in the Fantasy.
Chanel’s Legacy easily beat Benner Island in the Martha Washington but herself was a well-beaten sixth in the Honeybee on March 11. Trainer Lynn Chleborad saddled the gray daughter of Dominus two weeks later for a third-place finish, placed second via disqualification, in the six-furlong Purple Martin Stakes at Oaklawn, and is bringing her back off the three-week break for the Fantasy. Chanel’s Legacy also captured the Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn in January and keeps Alex Birzer aboard.
Vexatious is also returning from a short rest for trainer Neil Drysdale. The Giant’s Causeway filly made her stakes bow in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on April 1, just missing second by a nose, and is entered back here off the two-week break. Regular rider Kent Desormeaux will be holding the reins as Vexatious attempts to earn enough points to make the Kentucky Oaks field.
Kell Paso is yet another wheeling back. The Greg Green-trained daughter of Divine Park captured her initial two starts, including the El Paso Times Stakes at Sunland Park, before recording close seconds in her next pair, the Island Fashion Stakes and Sunland Park Oaks. That latter contest came on March 26, and Kell Paso gets Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons for the first time in this spot.
Conquest Slayer also ran in the Island Fashion and Sunland Park Oaks, finishing sixth and fourth, respectively, and returns here under Jorge Carreno. Spooky Woods ran third in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) after breaking her maiden by 3 3/4 lengths for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, and gets Flavien Prat in the saddle for the Fantasy.
Torrent filled the third spot in the Martha Washington when last seen on February 11, while Ever So Clever finished fifth in both that one and the Honeybee. Jose Ortiz has piloting duties on Torrent while Luis Contreras will be aboard Ever So Clever.
Completing the Fantasy field are My Sweet Stella, runner-up in both the Dixie Belle and Martha Washington but seventh in the Honeybee; recent allowance heroine Dutch Parrot; stakes debuter Conquest Bandido; and last-out maiden winner Drinks on Broadway.