CALIFORNIA SHIPPER FANTASTIC STYLE TOPS SPRING FEVER
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, March 3, 2017) – Kaleem Shah’s Fantastic Style is the 9-5 program favorite for the $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older filly and mare sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the 5 ½-furlong event, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 1:05 p.m.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Fantastic Style will be bidding for her first victory outside California in the Spring Fever, which lured a field of eight. A multiple stakes winner, she scored her biggest career victory to date in the $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes (G2) in 2015 at Los Alamitos. She finished second in her last start, the $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes (G2) Jan. 21 at Santa Anita. She was beaten just 3 ¾ lengths in the Santa Monica by Finest City, the country’s champion female sprinter of 2016.
“This particular race, I was actually surprised,” O’Neill said of the Spring Fever. “For $125,000, it is a lot of money, but there’s a couple of really nice fillies in there. She’s going to have to have her running shoes on to get it done. But she’s training like she should run well.”
Fantastic Style is scheduled to break from post 2 under Luis Contreras and carry 115 pounds.
Completing the projected Spring Fever field from the rail out: Kathballu, Channing Hill to ride, 119 pounds, 2-1 on the morning line; Marquee Miss, Didiel Osorio, 115, 5-1; Natural Wonder, Chris Landeros, 115, 20-1; Durango, Ricardo Santana Jr., 115, 12-1; D R C’s Pretty Sky, Geovanni Franco, 119, 8-1; Her Love for Pappy, Ramon Vazquez, 115, 12-1; and Super Saks, Alex Birzer, 115, 10-1.
Kathballu has won her last two starts on dirt – both stakes – for trainer Kenny McPeek, including the $50,000 Pan Zareta Dec. 31 at Fair Grounds. McPeek had hoped to run Kathballu in the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 28 at Oaklawn, but couldn’t because of restrictions placed on horses stabled at the Fair Grounds following an outbreak of equine herpesvirus there late last year. The trainer said placing the mare in more conservative spots has helped the 5-year-old daughter of Bluegrass Cat become more effective in recent months.
“She knocks on the door in a graded stake, but she doesn’t quite get in,” McPeek said. “I recommended to Dr. (Bill) Debozi, the owner, that we point her toward some modest, listed stakes races.”
Marquee Miss crossed the finish line second in the American Beauty, but was disqualified and placed last of six after lugging in repeatedly through the stretch.
Trainer Ingrid Mason said she has equipped Marquee Miss with a different type if bit to try and correct the problem. Marquee Miss, a multiple Oaklawn stakes winner, also lugged in during a runner-up finish in a Jan. 13 allowance/optional claiming sprint.
“I’m pretty confident that she will be fine, because the jock kind of knows what to do now,” Mason said. “And even if he has to keep her on the rail is not a bad thing.”
Mason will have to find a new rider for Marquee Miss after Didiel Osorio suffered a back injury (two fractured vertebrae) in a Thursday spill, said his agent, Joe Santos. Osorio has ridden Marquee Miss in her last three starts.
Mason said post 3 isn’t ideal for Marquee Miss “because all the speed seems to be on my outside.”
“But we’re just going 5 ½,” Mason said. “I don’t think she’ll be that close early on, anyway.”
Super Saks finished fifth in last year’s Spring Fever, but is a multiple stakes winner sprinting for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.