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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Stonestreet Stables homebred Pauline’s Pearl‘s victory put her squarely in the hunt for the 3-year-old filly division’s top honors with her victory in Saturday’s $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
Pauline’s Pearl broke from the far outside post 7 under Ricardo Santana Jr. as the 4/5 favorite and settled into a mid-pack position while Ava’s Grace posted opening fractions of :23.11, :46.86, and 1:11.84.
Pauline’s Pearl rounded the far turn with the leader in range and wore her down with a grinding effort in the stretch. The Steve Asmussen trainee crossed a length clear, completing the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:43.64.
“We had a good trip,” Santana Jr. said. “Everything worked out. She broke to run, settled down pretty well, and I thank God for the victory today. I think she has a great future.”
Though unable to hold off the favorite, Ava’s Grace saved second by 3/4 of a length over Coach. Completing the order of finish came Take Charge Lorin, Sylvia Q, and West Side Girl.
Sun Path scratched.
The Fantasy is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Pauline’s Pearl earned 100 points for the win, with Ava’s Grace receiving 40 for second, Coach 20 for third, and Take Charge Lorin 10 for fourth.
Pauline’s Pearl’s win was her first at the stakes level and followed a runner-up effort in the Honeybee Stakes (G3), the local prep for this race that she entered after breaking her maiden. The Tapit filly’s record improved to 5-2-1-1 with $461,500 earned.
“With who she is and the confidence (the Honeybee) gave us, I think Ricardo used more of her today, put her in a better position,” Asmussen said. “He said how confident he was around there. He used a little of her away from there, just to not hand it to them. Said down the backside she was traveling extremely comfortably and obviously we’re very pleased with the results.”
Pauline’s Pearl returned $3.60 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Ava’s Grace brought back $7.60 to place and $3.80 to show. Coach paid $2.60 to show.
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