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Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Fantasy Stakes from Oaklawn Park!
|B J Hernandez
|HARVEY’S LIL GOIL
|NEW YORK GROOVE
What: The Fantasy Stakes (G3)
Where: Oaklawn Park
When: Friday, May 1 – 5:09 pm Central time
How to watch: Fox Sport 1 and TVG
Traditionally a final prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, this year’s Fantasy Stakes (G3) instead will be the best race of the spring for 3-year-old fillies. A full field of 14 will jam the starting gate in search of the top prize in the 1 1/16-mile affair at Oaklawn Park, carrying a purse of $400,000.
The 2020 edition will be led by the California invader, Venetian Harbor, who has won her last two starts at Santa Anita by a combined 20 lengths, and British Idiom, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2019 and winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
In all, Friday’s deep field includes ten stakes winners hoping to take their place among previous champions to have won the Fantasy, including Davona Dale, Bold n’ Determined, Eight Belles, Rachel Alexandra, and Blind Luck.
After a game runner-up finish sprinting over the Del Mar turf, the daughter of Munnings has been a force of nature in her last two starts. A very fast maiden romp to close out 2019 was followed by a runaway victory in the one-mile Las Virgenes (G2) at Santa Anita in February. In both wins, she used her high cruising speed to dominate her overmatched competition from start to finish. Friday’s test will be new territory for the race favorite, though, as she not only faces a deep and classy field but also faces plenty of quality speed to keep her company early.
An undefeated champion at two, she did not quite uncork her very best when finishing second behind Finite in her sophomore debut. She will need to improve upon that effort in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) to win this one, but there are several good signs going in. Working well over the track for trainer Brad Cox, she should be more geared up this time around, and the last effort was good enough to believe that she is just in need of tightening to regain her best form. The pace set up also looks favorable, as contested early fractions should best suit her closing kick.
After knocking on the door in her first two stakes attempts, the daughter of Daredevil put it all together with a flashy front-running score in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). Given the result, similar tactics will likely be employed here, but given the amount of early speed in the race, including the favorite, she is very unlikely to get as easy a trip as she found last time.
A going-away winner of each of her last two starts, the daughter of American Pharoah utilizes a strong stretch kick to overpower her competition. Here, though, she will go from the minor leagues to the major leagues in Friday’s Fantasy. While the competition is certainly tougher than she has yet faced, the filly she easily defeated in the Busanda victory came back to beat good fillies in the Busher next time. That, coupled with a favorable pace set-up, have me believing that she can successfully make the big jump up in class.
An impressive winner of the Grade 2 Demoiselle last fall, big things were expected of the Bill Mott-trained filly in 2020, but she has not quite lived up to expectations in two starts this year. Most recently, she was taken off the early lead, only to chase Swiss Skydiver around the Gulfstream Park oval. Look for her to be allowed to show more of her natural speed this time, perhaps laying just off the early lead. In her third start of the year, she should be ready to fire her best. Whether she is good enough to beat these is the question.
After showing promise as a juvenile in both Kentucky and California for two different trainers, she has really come to hand for trainer Brad Cox. Two starts back at Oaklawn, she was a good second to the future winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks, Bonny South. Last time locally, she was a game-winner of the Honeybee (G3). With her tactical running style, liking of the track, and continued improvement, she could very well prove to belong in this high-class event.
Since not showing much in her career debut last year, the daughter of Curlin has displayed marked improvement for trainer Steve Asmussen in two subsequent starts this year. Moving nicely through her conditions over the Oaklawn Park surface, she looks like an up and coming filly. Whether that translates well against this very difficult test remains to be seen, but the well-bred $420,000 yearling purchase looks like one to keep an eye on down the road.
The daughter of Tonalist has run four straight good races since beginning her career last December for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and was actually favored over Shedaresthedevil last time in the Honeybee. The problem for her is, while consistent, none of her efforts look quite good enough against this bunch.
An interesting longshot on Friday, she made a premature move in her most recent when stretched out to a mile for the Busher Stakes, before getting nipped at the wire of odds of 13/1. Given that experience and all the speed in this one, a more patient ride just may see her run another strong race at big odds.
She won the Pocahontas (G2) last year at Churchill Downs, but could not build upon that effort when well beaten behind British Idiom in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. While she does bring a level of class to Friday’s affair, it appears as though she has picked too tough a race in which to make her sophomore debut.
Boasts a strong 3-for-4 lifetime record, but each of those wins comes against New York state-breds. In her one try against open graded stakes fillies, she was not quite up to the task. She takes another shot in here off two straight wins at Aqueduct, but will likely find the class a bit too much for her.
A two-time stakes winner over synthetic surfaces at 2, she failed in her only start this year, which was a two-turn race over the turf. This Fantasy field seems like an awfully tough spot for her dirt debut, but there is little proof as to how good she may become.
After winning her first three starts sprinting, she was unable to step up against better competition in her last two. She does possess plenty of early speed, which should only add to what looks like a fast and contested pace. When the real running begins, though, she is unlikely to stick around.
A whipping girl for Finite in a pair of stakes races last fall at Churchill Downs, she showed little in her 3-year-old debut. Expecting anything more against this field seems like wishful thinking.
Here are my plays:
$5 Exacta part wheel – British Idiom and Harvey’s Lil Goil over Venetian Harbor, Lake Avenue, Kansas Kis, Shedaresthedevil, British Idiom, and Harvey’s Lil Goil= $50
If you’re playing only to win, go with the two best late runners in the race, British Idiom and Harvey’s Lil Goil.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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