It was supposed to be Kentucky Oaks Day but the pandemic pushed that day four months into the future and today’s $400,000 Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park, which was supposed to be contested three weeks ago has drawn a stellar field.
The Fantasy drew a field of 14 three-year-olds that will go 1 1/16 miles on the main track and 170 points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers will be awarded toward earning a spot in the field for the Kentucky Oaks, which will now take place on Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs.
Venetian Harbor, who won the Las Virgeness (G2) at Santa Anita by 9 ¼ lengths is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The Richard Baltas trainee has two local drills since landing in Hot Springs.
“Venetian Harbor is doing great,” Baltas said. “She’s been here for a while and has had two good works over the track. All is good, so, obviously, the pressure’s on. We’re the favorite. Not much to say. Break and get a good position in the first turn.”
Among her foes is British Idiom (5-2), winner of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). She was second in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds in her three-year-old debut for trainer Brad Cox.
“I think this is the deepest field she’s faced, from top to bottom,” Cox said. “She’s going to have to bring her ‘A’ race to get it done, but she’s acting like that she’s going to do that.”
Also on Friday’s card is the $80,000 Gardenia which is also for three-year-old fillies. The race drew a field of 14 with the Bob Baffert trained Gingham the 3-1 morning line favorite. She ran second behind Venetian Harbor in the Las Virgeness in her last outing.
Today’s action will be televised live on NBC Sports Network from 4:00 to 7:00 ET.
Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 9 The Fantasy G3 (Post time 5:09 CT)
#10 British Idiom 5-2
#3 Swiss Skydiver 6-1
#5 Harvey’s Lil Goil 12-1
#2 Venetian Harbor 2-1
The Cox trainee should move forward off his runner up finish in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) last out at Fair Grounds off a 3 1/2-month break. The filly was lightly bumped coming out of the gate, had to steady off heels going into the first turn, raced wide much of the trip and was no match for Finite in a runner up finish The third place finisher Swiss Skydiver came back to win the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) while fourth place finisher Tempers Rising came back to run a good second in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Finite was fourth in that race. The Cox trainee was perfect last year capping off the year by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). She has worked sharply over the main track here and is going to get a good pace set up as there is plenty of early zip signed up in here.
This daughter of American Pharoah was 1 3/4 lengths behind our top pick in a runner up finish in the Rachel Alexandra and she came back to wire the field in a sharp win in the Gulfstream park Oaks earning a career top speed figure. It was her second trip going two turns. The McPeek trainee took an advantage of a race without much pace and she will see it here. But she has shown an ability to come from off the pace coming from nine to rally in her maiden win at seven furlongs. She may end up getting overlooked in this spot.
Harvey’s Lil Goil
has been working at Payson for her first start since trouncing the field in the Busanda by 7 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct going nine furlongs. The runner up in that race was Walter White, who came back to win the Busher in her next start at Aqueduct on March 7. The Mott trainee looks as if she still has some upside. She should get a good trip from mid pack and her 12-1 morning line looks generous.