HOT SPRINGS, AR – Medallion Racing and Jerry McClanahan’s Sassy Sienna squeezed out a significant score by the slimmest of margins over Wonder Gadot in Friday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Breaking from the rail under Gary Stevens, Sassy Sienna kept to the inside while tracking the 7-5 favorite Amy’s Challenge through initial splits of :22.87, :45.88, and 1:10.52. With two furlongs remaining, Wonder Gadot moved up alongside the outside of Sassy Sienna and the two began cutting into Amy’s Challenge’s lead. Locked together stride for stride, Sassy Sienna and Wonder Gadot battled gallantly past the leader in the final 1/16 and hit the wire noses apart in a final time of 1:45.63 for the 1 1/16-mile event over a dirt surface rated fast (sealed).
Sassy Sienna’s win was made especially sweet because she was able to turn the tables on Amy’s Challenge and Cosmic Burst, the top two finishers from the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes last out (Sassy Sienna took third in that event).
“It was an awesome, awesome trip,” Stevens said. “I didn’t use her much away from the gate last time. I shuffled back and it kind of backfired on me. She was super sharp (today) and the crew had her ready. She left there running and sat a good trip in second, and she just kept grinding it out. Beautiful filly. I told those guys I was wishing today was a mile and 1/8, and that’s a good thing, because she will get the mile and 1/8 for the (Kentucky) Oaks. She is springing forward at the right time.”
After leading until midway down the front stretch today, Amy’s Challenge faded late to take third, 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner and 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Cosmic Burst. Bo Peep, Harbor Lights, Tahoe Dream, and Princess Warrior completed the order of finish.
The Fantasy is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Sassy Sienna earned 100 points for the win, with Wonder Gadot receiving 40 for second, Amy’s Challenge 20 for third, and Cosmic Burst 10 for fourth.
The victory improved Sassy Sienna’s record to 9-3-2-2 with career earnings of $394,600 for her owners. The daughter of Midshipman was privately purchased following her last win, an optional claiming event here on January 15.
“She’s a tough filly,” said trainer Brad Cox. “She’s shown us a lot from the get-go. On to the Oaks.”
Sassy Sienna returned $25 to win, $8.20 to place, and $4.20 to show. Wonder Gadot brought back $4.60 to place and $2.80 to show, while Amy’s Challenge paid $2.40 to show.