Phoenix Thoroughbreds III and KatieRich Stables' Lady Apple used a ground saving trip to score a one-length victory at odds of 9-1 in Friday's $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) before an on-track crowd of 17,000 at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark. Friday marked the opening of the Thoroughbred racing track's Racing Festival of the South.
As expected, 6-5 favorite Motion Emotion went straight to the lead under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith and proceeded to take the field through early fractions of :23.16 and :46.76 for the first half mile while Lady Apple stalked the pace from fourth under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. The winner came through tight quarters to gain control in mid-stretch and drew away from her competition late to win the race in 1:43.88 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast track.
Motion Emotion held on for second, three-quarters of a length over Brill. Orra Moor, Irish Mischief, Cosmic Code, Super Tap, Destiny Over Fate, K P Slickem, Oxy lady and Filly Joel completed the order of finish. Kiffle was scratched.
“She got a great trip,” said Santana. “I put her in the position we wanted to be in. She kept fighting for the rail. Once she got through, she just kept going. It was a big win.”
With the victory, Lady Apple, who was winning for the third straight time this season, earned 100 points towards Kentucky Oaks eligibility and is now fourth on the list of 14 starters. Motion Emotion earned 40 points and is also safely in the Kentucky Oaks field with 60 total points. Brill earned 20 points and is now sitting 18th on the list with 22 total points, while Orra Moor earned 10 for fourth and is 23rd on the list.
Lady Apple, a bay filly by Curlin out of Miss Mary Apples, by Clever Trick, was bred in Kentucky by KatieRich Farms. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Lady Apple now has a record of 3-2-0 in seven starts and has earned $452,200. She returned $21.60, $7.40 and $4 after winning her first stakes.
“Ricardo gave her a dream trip and the filly showed tremendous heart,” said Asmussen. “She broke smoothly. He worked out the perfect trip for her. I think the only option was the fence and she showed a lot of heart to go through there.”
Live racing resumes Saturday for a 12-race card highlighted by the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). First post is 12:30 p.m. Oaklawn's live season continues through Saturday, May 4.
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