The decision earlier this week to send Beautician (Dehere) to Keeneland for Saturday's Ashland S. (G1) has left Friday's $300,000 Fantasy S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park with only four three-year-old filly prospects, but the quartet, headed by multiple Grade 1 winner BLIND LUCK (Pollard's Vision), is solid on paper. The 1 1/16-mile Good Friday feature kicks off Oaklawn's Racing Festival of the South, which runs through Arkansas Derby Day on April 10.
All eyes will be on Blind Luck, who will be out to prove she has not lost any affinity for running on dirt. After breaking her maiden by more than 13 lengths in a claiming race at Calder last June, the chestnut was privately sold and sent to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in California. While there, she scored or placed in six straight Grade 1 events, winning the Oak Leaf S., Hollywood Starlet S. and Las Virgenes S. Her three losses have been by margins of one length or less, including a three-quarters-of-a-length miss in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies which cost her an Eclipse Award.
The gap between Blind Luck and her rivals, which was at its greatest in her seven-length romp in the Hollywood Starlet, has narrowed significantly this season. After barely getting her nostril up in time in the Las Virgenes, she got on track too late last time in the Santa Anita Oaks and settled for third a half-length behind Crisp (El Corredor).
ALL DUE RESPECT (Value Plus), who led for all but the last few strides of the Santa Anita Oaks, raced exclusively on dirt prior to her excursion to California. A late developer, she lost all four of her starts at two before romping by more than seven lengths in a Fair Grounds maiden on January 24. Jockey Garrett Gomez will likely have her on or close to the lead in the Fantasy, and can easily get the jump on the late-running Blind Luck.
The Oaklawn-based contingent for the Fantasy is made up of NO SUCH WORD (Canadian Frontier) and TIDAL POOL (Yankee Gentleman). The former upset Beautician at 6-1 in the Honeybee S. (G3), the leading local prep for the Fantasy, to remain perfect in two-turn races. Tidal Pool, who earned a 101 BRIS Speed rating when winning a one-mile allowance by eight lengths on February 18, is also likely to show speed but has struggled at this class level in the past having placed just once in five previous stakes attempts.