TERRA PROMESSA HEAVY FANTASY FAVORITE
Hot Springs, Ark. (Friday, April 8, 2016) – Perennial Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen has never won the Fantasy Stakes (G3). But, he is scheduled to send out the top two wagering choices in the program, including Terra Promessa, for Saturday’s 44th running of the $400,000 race for 3-year-old fillies that kicks off Oaklawn’s annual Racing Festival of the South.
Probable post time for the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy is 5:09 p.m. (Central) and it goes as the ninth of 10 races.
Terra Promessa has won 3 of 4 career starts, including the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 12 at Oaklawn. The daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin (also trained by Asmussen) won the Honeybee by 6 ½ lengths and an entry-level allowance race by nine lengths Feb. 5 at Oaklawn in her 3-year-old debut.
Taxable, unbeaten in two career starts for Asmussen, is the early 5-2 second choice in the program.
“The fillies are doing well,” Asmussen said. “It’s an exciting spot.”
Terra Promessa is scheduled to break from post 2 under three-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. and carry equal top weight of 121 pounds.
Taxable, a two-length winner of her 3-year-old and two-turn debut March 11 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn, is scheduled to break from the rail under Corey Nakatani and carry 117 pounds.
“You don’t know to complain about a post position until after the race is run,” Asmussen said with a laugh.
Asmussen finished third in the 1999 Fantasy with Dreams Gallore, who would become the trainer’s first Grade 1 winner later that year in the $250,000 Mother Goose at Belmont Park. Since that time, he has won six Oaklawn training titles and is the runaway leader this year.
Completing the compact field from the rail out are Cosmic Evolution, Ramon Vazquez to ride, 121 pounds; Florida Bird, Alex Canchari, 117; Impasse, Channing Hill, 117; and Ready to Confess, Luis Quinonez, 117.
Cosmic Evolution is the co-third choice in the program (8-1) for trainer Lon Wiggins, whose father, retired trainer Hal Wiggins, saddled Rachel Alexandra to win the 2009 Fantasy. She exits a third-place finish in the Honeybee, which marked her first start around two turns. That day, she was beaten 11 lengths by Terra Promessa after setting the early pace from the rail.
“I like the post position better this time,” Lon Wiggins said. “I hope she’s not on the lead, but she always breaks good.”
Cosmic Evolution, who broke her maiden in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes last June at Churchill Downs, was ridden in her first five career starts by Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, who retired March 29.
Also 8-1 in the program is Ready to Confess, who will be making her first start since finishing fifth in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 6 at Oaklawn.
“I think Steve looks pretty tough,” said Donnie K. Von Hemel, who trains Ready to Confess. “But sometimes when you’ve got a short field, you’ve got to take a chance to try and get a piece of it.”
Florida Bird is being wheeled back after finishing fourth in last Saturday’s $100,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes at Oaklawn, a 6-furlong race restricted to Arkansas-breds.
Impasse is a three-race maiden for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
The Fantasy offers 170 points, including 100 to the winner, toward starting eligibility for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 6 at Churchill Downs.
The Fantasy runner-up will earn 40 points, with the third- and fourth-place finishers earning 20 and 10 points, respectively.
Weather permitting, the infield will be open Saturday.