Magical Fantasy had much to do under Alex Solis to win the $319,000 Gamely Stakes (gr. IT) (VIDEO), but she proved equal to the task, edging Visit and Diamond Diva in the final couple of jumps in a terrific finish on the Hollywood Park turf May 30.
Winner of the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) by a nose in her last start for trainer Paddy Gallagher, the 4-year-old daughter of Diesis earned her second grade I victory by a neck in a stirring stretch drive.
Racing near the rail rounding the final turn with five horses to pass, Solis slid the agile filly through a seam to put her position to challenge the leaders on the outside in upper stretch. Under encouragement, Magical Fantasy unfurled her long strides from there and gradually pulled to even terms with the leader, Diamond Diva, ridden by David Flores, in deep stretch.
Visit, rallying between horses under jockey Brice Blanc, was right there as well as the trio hit the wire with Magical Fantasy getting up by a neck. Visit got the place spot by a nose over the 2-1 choice Diamond Diva. The late-charging Black Mamba, the 5-2 second choice in the well-matched field of nine, ran out of room and finished fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile test of fillies and mares was 1:48.18.
"She's such a professional, you can do anything you want with her," said Solis, who has ridden her regularly. "She's really game and she's getting better and better.
"We had a great trip. At the top of the stretch I thought I had a good chance to win the race and I just wanted to make sure that I moved steadily and not make one strong move. I was afraid of Black Mamba coming late, but I never saw her."
Winner of the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) by two lengths last August at odds of 42-1, Magical Fantasy has really blossomed in her last two starts under Gallagher's tutelage. The gorgeous chestnut began the year with two losses to the top-notch filly Life Is Sweet on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track before returning to the turf for the 10-furlong Santa Barbara, a race she won while overcoming much trouble by a nose over Black Mamba. In spite of that huge effort, she was sent off at odds of 6-1 in the Gamely.
"She doesn't seem to get the respect. I feel a little like Rodney Dangerfield," joked Chuck Winner, who owns Magical Fantasy in partnership with David Bienstock and Paul Mandabach. "But she always gives her all. She's really maturing this year. She has a wonderful stride. When we went over to England (to purchase her), I liked the way she moved, I liked everything about her. We picked her out of the group. She's special."
Magical Fantasy improved her career mark to four wins and four seconds in 15 starts. She has earnings of $649,231 after grabbing the winning prize of $196,800.
Carrying co-high weight of 123 pounds, Magical Fantasy rated in seventh early as 28-1 shot Ainamaa took the early lead from Diamond Diva, crossing over in front of that one heading into the clubhouse turn. Magical Fantasy remained unhurried as Solis angled her toward the inside after fractions of :24.23, :48.74 and 1:12.31.
Diamond Diva, pulling early while stalking the pacesetter, made a bid for the lead from between horses leaving the turn to get a narrow advantage in upper stretch. She fought all the way down the lane with Ainamaa, Toque de Queda, and Visit, who pressed between rivals from the eighth pole. Magical Fantasy then arrived on the outside and the first three finishers slugged it out from there with little between them.
"Alex put her in a great spot all the way," Gallagher said. "He knows her probably better than the rest of us. It was an exciting race to watch.
"We’ll probably space out her races, we’ll see if there’s something here or at Del Mar. She seems to run good with just a little bit of time in between races."
Black Mamba was followed home by supplemental entry Lemon Chiffon, Toque de Queda, Modification, Ainamaa and Foxysox. Tuscan Evening and Bel Air Sizzle scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Rodes S. Parrish and Charles Beach IV, Magical Fantasy is out of the Easy Goer mare Kissing Gate.
Sent off as the fourth choice, the winner paid $14.20, $7 and $4.40 while topping a $2 exacta worth $147.40.
Juddmonte Farms' Visit, making her strongest U.S. showing in six starts for trainer Bobby Frankel, returned $9.20 and $5.60.
"Bobby told me she might be a little keen but she settled down beautifully and finished nice," Blanc said of the runner-up.
Diamond Diva, second in last year's Gamely, was $3.20 to show in her second start following a 10-month layoff for trainer James Cassidy.
"I thought she was going to be ready but she was still a little short," Flores said. "We were going real slow early and she picked it up at the top of the stretch. This is probably the race that will get her ready for next time."