The Fantasy Stakes kicks off the Racing Festival of the South this Wednesday, and will be headlined by Honeybee winner Rose to Gold. There is no doubting the strength of this years three-year old filly group, but Rose to Gold proved last time out that her name belongs with some of the best around the country. Calvin Borel was able to use her tactical speed last time out to wire the field, although this time she might have some company up front in shipper Manuka Honey. The presence of Borel certainly will be plus on the first Friday of May for Rose to Gold, but it also doesn’t hurt to have him on board here at Oaklawn.
A good measuring stick for Rose to Gold could be the second place finisher of the Honeybee, Flashy Gray. Flashy Gray came in as the hype horse, but was beaten two and a half lengths by Rose to Gold. Flashy Gray returned to run in the Fair Grounds Oaks, and was beaten by the undefeated Unlimited Budget by a similar margin of almost two lengths. So if that form holds true, it puts her in line Unlimited Budget, which is a very positive sign as to just how talented Rose to Gold can be.
While Rose to Gold will dominate the wagering, there is another local that has caught the eye of Oaklawn fans this meet. Hung the Moon, coming out of the Donnie K Von Hemel barn, could give Rose to Gold the biggest challenge. The late charging filly has won two races in a row, and seems to be on the improve at the right time. She was able to defeat fellow Fantasy runner Marathon Lady in her Maiden breaking victory, and that form looks strong as Marathon Lady came back to finish a close second in the Bourbonette Oaks last time out. The only negative about Hung the Moon is the fact that she’ll need a hot pace to run at, but as stated earlier she might get a little help from Manuka Honey.
It’s not just the local horses that could make a splash in this one, as shippers Legal Mind and the before mentioned Manuka Honey look to invade. Manuka Honey is the recent runaway winner of the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay by over seven lengths. She went straight to the front in that one, and made every pole the winning one. Edgar Prado will be coming in for the ride. The other shipper, Legal Mind, has been doing some decent running at Sam Houston, but certainly will be jumping up in class for this one. He has attracted Terry Thompson to ride, which is a positive.
Rounding out the field are two more locals: Inspired Exchange and Liberty Girl. Liberty Girl was able to get a big allowance win on opening day, but has yet to reproduce that form. Inspired Exchange is a recent maiden winner in the slop, as she came from last to first to get the victory. On paper she doesn’t look to be fast enough, but make note of her slop performance. There is an 80% chance of rain on Wednesday, which could even up the field and give her an outside chance.