With the Oaklawn Park-based 3-year-old fillies not looking particularly strong this year, the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) April 5 will provide Repole Stable's Stopchargingmaria an excellent opportunity to rebound off a dull effort in the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II), in which she finished an uncharacteristic fifth, beaten 14 1/4 lengths.
The daughter of Tale of the Cat concluded her 2-year-old campaign with a 10 3/4-length romp in the Tempted Stakes (gr. III) and a game neck victory in the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle Stakes (gr. I), but faltered in her 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park at odds of 3-1.
Ramon Vazquez gets the mount for the first time in the Fantasy and will break from post 7 in a field of eight sophomore fillies.
"She shipped fine and is comfortable at Oaklawn," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "She's already had a couple of gallops over the track and is doing well. We're looking forward to her race.
"We were disappointed with her first race back, but like a number of other fillies in that race, she got caught up in the pace scenario that day. It was the only time in her career that she didn't fire. She came back in good order, and since then she has been training well."
Stopchargingmaria indicated her sharpness by breezing a half in a bullet :48 March 23, fastest of 52 works at the distance.
Pletcher is hoping the Fantasy can get the filly back on track and earn her a trip to Churchill Downs for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 2.
"This race will determine whether she goes on to the Oaks or not," said Pletcher. "But first, let's get this one under her belt."
The main competition should come from the first three finishers of the March 8 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III): Sugar Shock, Euphrosyne, and Please Explain, respectively. Sugar Shock, however, was disqualified in the Honeybee and placed second, moving Euphrosyne into first.
Sugar Shock, trained by Doug Anderson, had won her two previous starts, both at Oaklawn, and had opened a 2 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole in the Honeybee. But she tired late and lugged out, interfering with the Steve Asmussen-trained Euphrosyne, who was coming off a second in the Martha Washington Stakes.
Please Explain, impressive winner of a maiden race at Gulfstream and the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay, closed from far back with a big stretch run to be beaten a length, and the daughter of Curlin should be coming fast in the final furlong on Saturday. She is trained by Tom Proctor and will be ridden by Drayden Van Dyke.
$400,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, approximate post time 6:09 p.m. EDT), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Sugar Shock (KY), C. Hill, 117, D. Anderson
2. Haveyougoneaway (NY), J. Loveberry, 117, A. Milligian
3. Euphrosyne (KY), R. Santana Jr., 121, S. Asmussen
4. Mufajaah (KY), J.M. Johnson, 117, D. Peitz
5. Kiss Moon (KY), T.J. Thompson, 117, D. Vance
6. Please Explaine (KY), D. Van Dyke, 121, T. Proctor
7. Stopchargingmaria (KY), R.A. Vazquez, 121, T. Pletcher
8. Courageous Julie (KY), J.K. Court, 117, D.W. Lukas