HOT SPRINGS, AR – Trainer Richard Baltas’ graded stakes-winning filly Venetian Harbor appeared at Oaklawn Park on Friday morning, working 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 as she prepares for a start in the local $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) on May 1.

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Venetian Harbor brings with her a two-race win streak, with the first an eye-poping maiden-breaking effort by 10 3/4 lengths while going 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Park on December 29. Baltas gave her time to develop before placing her in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2), a two-turn mile event that she trounced by 9 1/4 lengths.

The Munnings filly had been training steadily since February 21 with an eye on the Santa Anita Oaks (G2), but plans changed after Santa Anita Park was forced to temporarily cease racing operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like the Santa Anita Oaks, the Fantasy rewards the top four finishers with 170 total points toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1), with 100 to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third, and 10 to fourth.

Venetian Harbor after winning the Las Virgenes (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

“She’s been training forwardly and I just kind of wanted to get her (to Oaklawn Park),” Baltas said. “It seems like my horses are running better that have been there for a little bit, so that was kind of my decision to bring her early and not right on top of the race. Obviously, she’s a very talented horse and we’ll see what happens.”

Assistant trainer Aimee Dollase oversees the local Baltas string that includes Taishan, most recently third in the Oaklawn Stakes and who is training toward the Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2.

Other fillies training toward a start in the Fantasy include British Idiom, the champion 2-year-old filly who won all three starts last year (including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies [G1]), and Lazy Daisy, winner of last fall’s Pocahontas Stakes (G2).