Magical Fantasy for Real in Del Mar Oaks

Magical Fantasy for Real in Del Mar Oaks
Photo: Benoit
Magical Fantasy cruises to an upset win in the Del Mar Oaks.
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Magical Fantasy, the longest shot in the $350,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) (VIDEO),  registered a 42-1 shocker with a big finishing kick for jockey Alex Solis on the turf Aug. 16.

Trained by Paddy Gallagher, the Kentucky-bred 3-year-old daughter of Diesis scored her first U.S. victory and her first stakes, paying an Oaks-record $87 for the win while teaming with another outrageous outsider, Bel Air Sizzle, to produce a $2 exacta worth $942.40

Second-last on the final turn in the field of 10, Solis threaded Magical Fantasy through the homestretch, emerging with the lead leaving the eighth pole and driving to the wire two lengths in front. Bel Air Sizzle, also closing but well out on the middle of the track, got up for second, a half-length in front of her Barry Abrams-trained stablemate Lethal Heat.

Favored Satan's Circus ran on fourth but was never a threat in the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-old fillies. The winning time was a solid 1:46.73 on firm going.

Magical Fantasy began her career in Great Britain, racing mostly on Polytrack before transferring to Gallagher last spring for the ownership of David Bienstock, Paul Mandabach, and Charles Winner. In her first start, at Hollywood Park in the May 10 Senorita (gr. IIIT) at one mile, the chestnut filly ran a huge race to finish second, a nose behind Sweeter Stlll. Her subsequent starts, all at Hollywood in the nine-furlong Honeymoon (gr. IIT), when she was fifth, and the 1 1/4-mile American Oaks (gr. IT), where she ran sixth, did not appear as strong on paper.

"I know she was a long shot, but I guess we were hopeful because of the way she was training," Gallagher said. "I think you have to take a shot when they're doing as well as she was. Today they went a little quick the first part and that gave her a chance to relax. She had a nice kick today, which she showed in her first race. She showed that again today, so that was very encouraging. We put earmuffs on her today for the first time in a race. We hoped the earmuffs would help her relax."

Solis, who has ridden Magical Fantasy in all of her Southern California races and also works her regularly, said he never lost faith.

"I was back there (behind horses) sitting and waiting," Solis said. "I thought I was going to have to go outside. There were too many horses in front of me. And then it opened. The hole opened inside and it was time to go. And she went. Felt great. She's been training so well in the mornings here. Today she ran just like she's been training."

Solis held Magical Fantasy at the back of the pack as Misty Ocean rushed to the front and opened up  a 2 1/2-length lead on the backstretch while setting swift fractions. Misty Ocean tired at the head of the stretch, as the stalking Lethal Heat, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, took the lead.

Magical Fantasy, next-to-last while saving ground all the way, started to pick up the back markers leaving the far turn and continued to weave through traffic down the lane, surging between horses to burst past Lethal Heat and the tiring Storm Mesa. Bel Air Sizzle, with Clinton Potts aboard, was closing on the far outside and looked to be a danger. But she could not make a serious impact on the winner in the final sixteenth, settling for second.

Early fractions were :22.71 for the opening quarter-mile, :47.03 for the half, and 1:11.21 for six furlongs. They got the mile in 1:35.01, with the final furlong going in 11.72 seconds.

The Oaks,  the second lifetime win for Magical Fantasy, was worth $210,000 to her connections. She had earned just $34,431 prior to the race, with her lone victory coming in a maiden triumph over Lingfield's Polytrack surface Nov. 26. Rodes S. Parrish and Charles Beach IV bred the winner from the Easy Goer mare Kissing Gate.

The win mutuel on Magical Fantasy was $87, $29.80, and $10. Bel Air Sizzle, who had tailed off a good form cycle in her last two starts, bounced back strongly to return $22.40 and $11 at odds of 32-1. Lethal Heat, making an eight-day turnaround for Abrams after beating males in a state-bred stakes on Polytrack, was $6 to show, with the $2 trifecta worth $7,207. The $1 superfecta with 8-5 favorite Satan's Circus fourth, was $22,801.

Satan's Circus, favored off her game runner-up finish to Pure Clan in the American Oaks July 5, finished a neck behind Lethal Heat. Then came second choice Storm Mesa, Missit, Misty Ocean, Oceane Music, Million Dollar Run and Ginger Pop.

"She just wouldn't relax," said jockey Garrett Gomez of the favorite. "She was too wound up. This is a new place for her. And only her second start in the states. She ran well though, considering."

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