Strong set of fillies in Fantasy Stakes

HOT SPRINGS — Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort’s dominant 3-year-old filly has stepped across the gender line. Other fillies need to step forward with their season’s two-turn championship up for grabs.

A field of eight is expected to start the Grade III $600,000 Fantasy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn today.

Post time for the Fantasy, the 10th of 13 races on Oaklawn’s card, is scheduled for 5:16 pm

The Fantasy is Oaklawn’s final of three Kentucky Oaks qualifying races. Secret Oath eased away to multiple-length wins in the first two, the 1-mile Martha Washington Stakes on Jan. 29, and the Grade III Honeybee Stakes over 1 1.16 miles on Feb. 26 to earn a stall in the Oaks’ 14- filly starting gate. With that in place, her owners and Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas have chosen to enter Secret Oath in Oaklawn’s Grade I Arkansas Derby for 3-year-olds today, two races after the Fantasy.

The Fantasy will distribute 170 Oaks qualifying points, with 100, 40, 20, and 10 to fillies who finish first-fourth, respectively.

Edna, the 2-1 Fantasy morning-line favorite trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was scratched with a low-grade fever and did not leave Baffert’s southern California barn.

“She’s OK, but I couldn’t take any chances,” Baffert said. “There’s been a bug going through the barn at Santa Anita, but I love that spot. It was a great spot for her. It’s just too bad.”

Likely remaining Fantasy favorites are Bubble Rock, owned by Arkansan John Ed Anthony and trained by Brad Cox, an Eclipse Award winner in 2020 and 2021, and Yuugiri, a daughter of Shackleford trained by Rodolphe Brisset, currently ranked 16th on the Oaks points list.

Yuugiri finished second in the Grade II Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs on Dec. 17, and was third in the Martha Washington.

Florent Geroux is set to ride Yuugiri, 4-1 on the morning line.

Brisset said Yuugiri’s trip in the Martha Washington was less than ideal.

“She kind of missed the break a little bit and got rushed,” Brisset said. “She followed pretty quick fractions, and she got tired. But now we have a race and three breezes back. The filly looks great, and obviously, we hope for a clean break and a clean trip, and then we’ll see where we belong.”

Morning-line 3-1 favorite Bubble Rock, a daughter of More Than Ready, is 20th on the Oaks points list. Bubble Rock won the one-mile Cincinnati Trophy Stakes on the all-weather surface at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., on March 5 in her last start.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Cox said. “It’s a good spot, 3-year-old fillies, dirt. We can give her a chance and see how it goes. A little bit of the unknown if she’ll take to it, but we liked her well enough breezing her on the dirt to send her to Saratoga once we got her there. I thought she kind of struggled a little bit at Saratoga on the deeper surfaces. We’re hoping for a good tight track on Saturday.”

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