SATURDAY’S FANTASY STAKES IS A WIDE OPEN AFFAIR
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Hoyt, Director of Racing
firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-363-4305
Dream Lith, trained by Robertino Diodoro, breaks from the inside post in the G3 Fantasy Stakes
Photo credit: Coady Photography
By Robert Yates
SATURDAY’S FANTASY STAKES IS A WIDE OPEN AFFAIR
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Thursday, March 31, 2022) – With Secret Oath chasing the boys, the door is open for another girl to win Oaklawn’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies.
Dream Lith and Yuugiri, 1-2, respectively, in a major stakes race last fall, are among nine horses entered in the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Saturday.
Probable post time for the Fantasy, which goes as the 10th of 13 races, is 5:16 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at noon, with the infield open, weather permitting. Saturday’s card also features the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1), $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for older horses and the $200,000 Carousel Stakes for older female sprinters.
The Fantasy will offer 170 points (100-40-20-10, respectively) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks, which is limited to 14 starters. Secret Oath (60 points) already has secured a spot in the Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies, following runaway victories in the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 29 and $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) Feb. 26. The local division dominance prompted Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas to skip the Fantasy, Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Oaks points race, and point Secret Oath to the Arkansas Derby.
Dream Lith and Yuugiri will be meeting for the first time since they were separated by a length at the wire in the $400,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. Secret Oath finished fifth in the Golden Rod, but hasn’t been tested in three starts since.
The defection of Grade 1 winner and 2-1 program favorite Eda (slight temperature Monday) has reduced the projected Fantasy field to eight. Entrants from the rail out: Dream Lith, Ramon Vazquez to ride, 122 pounds, 8-1 on the morning line; Beguine, Francisco Arrieta, 119, 15-1; I Feel the Need, Alex Canchari, 119, 30-1; Magic Circle, Jose Lezcano, 122, 5-1; Mariah’s Fortune, Flavien Prat, 119, 10-1; Yuugiri, Florent Geroux, 119, 4-1; Heartyconstitution, Martin Garcia, 119, 12-1; and Bubble Rock, Ricardo Santana Jr., 122, 3-1.
In her only start since the Golden Rod, Dream Lith finished a well-beaten sixth in the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 19 at Fair Grounds. Robertino Diodoro, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2020, said Dream Lith’s race is better than it looks on paper.
“There was a horse that got pulled up and she was kind of behind that horse,” Diodoro said. “It was a very speed-biased track. First time off a long layoff. I really feel we were one or two works short going into it. But at the same time, Ramon said down the lane at the Fair Grounds, she was running. They just weren’t coming back to her.”
Dream Lith has three published workouts since arriving at Oaklawn in early March. Two were bullet drills, including an eye-catching half-mile in :47.40 March 26.
“She actually gave me goosebumps the way she worked,” Diodoro said. “She worked OK the time before. Kind of what you want from a horse, too, going into a race. Dream Lith, I thought worked OK last week and unbelievable (March 26). A week out going into a race, that’s what you want.”
The Fantasy also will be the second start since the Golden Rod for Yuugiri. She exits a distant third-place finish behind Secret Oath in the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee and needs a strong performance Saturday to be considered for the Kentucky Oaks, trainer Rodolphe Brisset said.
“She needs to run first or second,” Brisset said. “If she runs second, it would have to be a strong second. We don’t want to run, just to run in the Oaks. The dam of Yuugiri (Yuzuru) passed a couple of weeks ago, so she’s very valuable for the family. It’s very important to first win a stakes with her and then make sure she’s safe and sound because the dam passed. We will only take a strong look at the Oaks if we think she can run 1-2-3 in the Oaks. If it’s a distant second (in the Fantasy) and feel like we have no point in wasting a race, we will pass – even if she qualifies – and find the right race to be a black-type winner.”
Bubble Rock will be making her dirt debut for two-time reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox and breeder/owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs. Bubble Rock already is a stakes winner on turf – $150,000 Matron (G3) Oct. 9 at Belmont Park – and synthetic, claiming the $125,000 Cincinnati Trophy March 5 at Turfway Park in her last start.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Cox said. “It’s a good spot, 3-year-old fillies, dirt. We can give her a chance and see how it goes. A little bit of the unknown if she’ll take to it, but we liked her well enough breezing her on the dirt to send her to Saratoga once we got her there. I thought she kind of struggled a little bit at Saratoga on the deeper surfaces. We’re hoping for a good tight track on Saturday.”
Stablemate Mariah’s Fortune broke her maiden by eight lengths Dec. 17 at Oaklawn.
“Was looking at an allowance race and it didn’t go, so we kind of backed into this,” Cox said. “We’re going to give her a spin and see what happens.”
Magic Circle will be making her first start outside New York for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has won the Fantasy a record four times. Magic Circle was a front-running winner of the $100,000 Busanda Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Jan. 23 at Aqueduct.
Asmussen won the 2021 Fantasy with Pauline’s Pearl, who finished a length ahead of the Diodoro-trained Ava’s Grace.