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Fantasy Stakes 2024 | Oaklawn Park Picks [Kentucky Oaks]
My Mane Squeeze (NYRA)

Fantasy Stakes 2024 | Oaklawn Park Picks [Kentucky Oaks]

New York-bred standout My Mane Squeeze is the 3-1 program favorite for the $750,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park, which will award 200 points to its top five finishers (100-50-25-15-10, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks.

The Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies, is limited to 14 starters. The Fantasy, which drew 12 entrants, has a record purse in 2024 after previously being worth $600,000.

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Trained by Mike Maker, My Mane Squeeze will be facing open company and racing outside New York for the first time. She has won three consecutive restricted stakes races, including the one-mile $100,000 Maddie May Feb. 18 at Aqueduct in her last start.

Lemon Muffin, Tapit Jenallie and West Omaha finished 1-2-3, respectively, in the $400,000 G3-Honeybee Stakes Feb. 24. The 1 1/16-mile Honeybee was Oaklawn’s final major prep for the Fantasy.

Lemon Muffin (9-2) broke her maiden in the Honeybee – her two-turn and stakes debut – after four consecutive runner-up finishes for Lukas. One of nine stakes winners entered in the Fantasy, Lemon Muffin drew post 11.

“I think you’re going to see an improved filly, with that one under her belt the other day,” said Lukas, who is seeking his first Fantasy victory. “She’s doing everything right. Even in that race (Honeybee), she had a chance to suck out of there when it got a little tight and she bulled her way up in there. She’s got the right mental setup to be an Oaks filly, I think. She’s going to be tough.”

Lemon Muffin won the Honeybee by 3 ½ lengths. Tapit Jenallie finished a half-length ahead of the Cox-trained West Omaha, who was exiting a five-length victory in the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at 1 mile and 70 yards Jan. 20 at Fair Grounds.

West Omaha is 4-1 in the program for the Fantasy, which Cox won last year with Wet Paint.

“Little bit of a rough trip for a 3-year-old filly,” Cox said, referring to the Honeybee. “Still learning. Last time, I thought she still ran well, ran on, at the end. But we’re looking to get a little bit cleaner trip this time, get away a little bit better. She got squeezed right after the break last time and kind of cost her some position early. She’s always one, I thought, that distance is better, a mile and an eighth, and we’re obviously trying to get her to the Oaks. This is a great opportunity.”

Thorpedo Anna (7-2) will break from the extreme outside in her delayed 3-year-old debut for McPeek.

Thorpedo Anna won her first two starts last fall in Kentucky, but she is unraced since a runner-up finish in the $400,000 G2-Golden Rod Stakes Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs because of a minor hip issue. The Golden Rod was her two-turn debut.

“Extremely talented filly,” McPeek said. “She’s really talented. If she runs well, she could still make the Oaks or the Black-Eyed Susan.”