April 5, 2013
Rose to Gold to Face Six in Fantasy
Honeybee Stakes (G3) winner Rose to Gold leads a group of seven 3-year-old fillies entered for Wednesday’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3), the kick off to the Racing Festival of the South. The multiple stakes winner drew post three and will once again be ridden by jockey Calvin Borel.
Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti’s Friends Lake filly and trainer Sal Santoro left their base at Calder Race Course in late January for Hot Springs with the distinct purpose of using Oaklawn’s prep races as their springboard to the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (G3) and so far that plan has worked out perfectly. She finished second in the Martha Washington before the Honeybee and is among the Oaks leaders with 64 points based on Churchill Downs’ new qualifications for making the field.
Curragh Stable’s Manuka Honey is likely to vie with Rose to Gold for favoritism coming off an impressive 7 ½ length romp in the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. She began her career on the turf, but has been a perfect two for two since switching to dirt. Jockey Edgar Prado will be given the leg up by trainer John Terranova, who be saddling his first horse at Oaklawn.
Returning home to challenge Rose to Gold is Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Marathon Lady, who finished a heartbreaking second in the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway Park March 23. In that race, she took a short lead and then battled valiantly with Silsita before losing by a nose. One start earlier, the Graeme Hall filly impressively broke her maiden at Oaklawn by 3 ½ lengths Feb. 21.
“(Marathon Lady) is great,” said Hobby. “She’s got plenty of speed and she can put herself in the right place. We thought there was a chance Robby (Albarado) would come back and ride her, but he’s tied up at Keeneland. Joe (Bravo) rides a bunch of horses for the Lieblongs at Monmouth, and we can go and try and relive what he did for us here with Junebugred (winner of last year’s Smarty Jones with Bravo onboard).”
The complete field for the Fantasy, in program order, with riders: Inspired Exchange, Victor Lebron; Legal Mind, Terry Thompson; Rose to Gold, Calvin Borel; Hung the Moon, Luis Quinonez; Marathon Lady, Joe Bravo; Manuka Honey, Edgar Prado and Liberty Girl, Alex Birzer.
Lukas’ Derby Duo Works Friday
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has both Oxbow and Will Take Charge on target for the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1), sent his star pupils out for workouts Friday morning. Rebel Stakes (G2) runner-up Oxbow worked six furlongs in 1:14 3/5 over a muddy track, while his Rebel Stakes winning stablemate went five furlongs in 1:01, the fastest of 10 at the distance.
Lukas confirmed that Oxbow, who currently has 36 points based on Churchill Downs’ new criteria for making Kentucky Derby field, would start in the Arkansas Derby (G1) April 13 and has named Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens to ride. He is still deciding whether to start Will Take Charge in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland also on April 13 or just train up to the Derby. He has 60 points and is safely among the 20-horse field.
“Textbook,” said Lukas of the works. “I was really pleased, absolutely. The track was a little bit wet, but today was the day I wanted to do it, so we went ahead and did it. That’s it for Oxbow. Depending on what we decide with (Will Take Charge), it will probably be it for him as well. Oxbow went six furlongs and I tell you what about him. He blows out every day. He puts so much into his mornings. We end up trying to slow him down.”