FANTASY STAKES | PURSE: $400,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/16 MILES
Unlikely Rose to Gold stamped her ticket for the Kentucky Oaks with another dominating performance at Oaklawn Park April 10, splashing her way to a front-running 4 1/2-length victory in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes.
A $1,400 yearling purchase out of Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky February mixed sale in 2011, 3-year-old Rose to Gold extended her earnings to $717,889 with her fifth lifetime win in seven starts. All of her races have been in stakes company.
She also picked up 100 points toward a start in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks. Following her earlier 2 3/4- length score in Oaklawn's Honeybee Stakes March 9, she now ranks at the top of the Oaks point standings, to be used to determine the starting field in the event the race is overfilled. She is in a tie with champion 2-year-old filly Beholder at the top of the leader board with 164.
Trained by Sal Santoro for owners Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti, Rose to Gold was bred in Kentucky by the Mulholland family. The chestnut filly is by Friends Lake out of the unraced Tabasco Cat mare Saucy.
"She's proven she wants to go there [the Kentucky Oaks] and we're going to give her every opportunity to get there," said Santoro. "I'm extremely proud of her. If my daughter had just won the Nobel prize, that's how proud of her I am."
Ridden by Calvin Borel, the speedy Rose to Gold ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.80 over a sloppy, sealed track following a downpour prior to the Fantasy. The 121-pound high weight, sent off as the 7-10 choice, committed to the front while running slightly off the rail in the seven-horse Fantasy field. She repelled a couple of challenges from second choice Manuka Honey while carving out fractions of :23.31, :47.55, and 1:12.36, and began to edge away from her pace rival leaving the far turn.
Borel employed some right-handed urging to keep Rose to Gold attentive through the lane as she opened up by 4 1/2 lengths at the furlong mark. They remained in complete control all the way to the wire.
"She kept giving me 12, 12 12," said Borel referring to the fractions set by the winner. "When I asked her, she really responded even though the track and the weather were like that. She's a very, very talented filly and I think there's even a lot more there."
Borel rode Rose to Gold for the first time in the Honeybee.
Manauka Honey, easy winner of the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in her last start, held second all the way around for Edgar Prado, finishing one length in front of Marathon Lady and Joe Bravo.
"My filly tried really hard and she could have been a lot closer if she hadn't had the bad start," Prado said. "When she did get to the winner, that other filly just took off."
As a 2-year-old, Rose to Gold began her career with back-to-back stakes victories at Calder Casino & Race Course by a combined 26 1/2 lengths. She closed last season with a victory in the Delta Downs Princess Stakes Nov. 17.
She has started three times at the Oaklawn meet this year, finishing second in the Martha Washington Stakes prior to her Honeybee conquest. She is now 2-for-2 over off-tracks.
Rose to Gold paid $3.40, $2.40, and $2.10 while keying a $12.40 exacta with Manuka Honey, who returned $2.80 and $2.80. Marathon Lady was $2.80 to show.
Liberty Girl finished fourth, followed by Inspired Exchange, Hung the Moon, and Legal Mind.