West Point Thoroughbreds and partners’ Mr. Fantasy, who was once under considering for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), made his case for a run in next month’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) by scoring a 1 3/4-length victory in the $150,000 Withers (gr. III) (VIDEO) April 25 at Aqueduct.
A 3-year-old son of E Dubai, Mr. Fantasy notched the first graded stakes of his career in the one-mile Withers, which went to post with a field of only five after a pair of scratches. Kiaran McLaughlin trains the New York-bred colt.
Breaking from post 5 under Richard Migliore, Mr. Fantasy stalked the pace set by Supreme Summit, who ran an opening quarter-mile in :23.11 while being rank in the early stages. After being dragged eight or nine-wide, jockey Eibar Coa finally was able to get Supreme Summit to settle. The Doug O’Neill trainee was making just his third career start and first outside of California.
Supreme Summit, a son of Cactus Ridge, still led after a half-mile in :45.90, but Mr. Fantasy advanced along the inside on the turn and took over approaching the eighth-pole. The bay colt had a 3 1/2-length advantage with a furlong remaining and continued his comfortable lead in the stretch. This Ones for Phil, who got off to a poor start and trailed for the first three-quarters, found his best stride in upper stretch and closed ground on Mr. Fantasy until running out of room.
The final time on the fast main track was 1:34.91. This Ones for Phil finished second, 7 1/2 lengths ahead of the third-place Gone Astray .
"My horse broke in a bit of a tangle, but he’s such an athlete that he sorted himself out in two strides," Migliore said of the winner, who acted up in the paddock causing him to get extremely hot. "I was able to drop him in and he was idling along nicely. He’s got multiple moves. When I pushed the button, he just sprinted. I didn’t want to hit him. At the sixteenth pole, the race was over."
Mr. Fantasy, who has made all of his starts at Aqueduct, is now 3-0-1 from four starts. He began his career by romping in maiden special weight and allowance events over the winter, then set the pace before finishing third behind I Want Revenge and Imperial Council in the March 7 Gotham (gr. III). The bay colt has earned $166,000 for West Point, Donald Brooks, and Nick Cammarano.
Bred by Corra Cavalo Thoroughbreds, Mr. Fantasy is out of the Spectacular Bid mare Twice Forbidden.
The winner, sent off as the third choice, paid $8,60 $4.10, and $2.50. The exacta (5-1) was worth $23.80 and the trifecta (5-1-2) returned $68.50.
“Kiaran and Artie (Magnuson) have done a tremendous job managing his mental attitude," Migliore said. "If he would act better, I’d think he’d deserve a shot at the Preakness (May 16); he’s that talented. Maybe in maturity, he’ll pop out. But he’s the best horse I’ve sat on in a while.”
Reached by telephone after the race, West Point president Terry Finley had this to say about Mr. Fantasy's next step: "The Preakness is certainly on the table, but so is the Met Mile (gr. I, May 25 at Belmont Park). He would get a nice, little weight advantage and 3-year-olds have done very well in that race. It's probably between those two. But we'll look at what happens in the Derby and go from there. We're in a good spot with this colt. It was only his fourth start."
Just a Coincidence finished fourth, followed by Supreme Summit. Everyday Heroes and Seal Team were scratched.