Iowa Distaff winner Fancy Fusaichi takes on 6 in the Gardenia Handicap.

Iowa Distaff winner Fancy Fusaichi takes on 6 in the Gardenia Handicap.

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Fancy Fusaichi Highlights Gardenia Field

Fancy Fusaichi, runaway winner while making her stakes debut in the Iowa Distaff, looks to add a graded stakes victory to her resume Aug. 16 when she takes on six challengers in the $150,000 Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) at Ellis Park.

The Gardenia, a one-mile event for fillies and mares on the main track, is the highlight of the Ellis Park summer meet. It is one of three stakes on the 12-race program.

Based on her dominating 8 3/4-length victory in the June 28 Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows, Fancy Fusaichi should be the betting choice. The 4-year-old daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus  stalked the pace under Julien Leparoux, took over approaching the stretch, and easily drew clear in the 1 1/16-mile contest. Prior to the Iowa Distaff she was sharp in two allowance races at Churchill Downs, winning comfortably May 2 and finishing second by a length May 31, both at a mile.

Fancy Fusaichi, who needed seven tries to break her maiden last year, has been in top form most of the season for trainer Bill Mott. She opened the year by winning in the slop at Gulfstream Park by 10 lengths in allowance competition.

A Kentucky homebred of George Steinbrenner’s Kinsman Stable, she is out of the Rahy mare Fancy Clancy. Brian Hernandez Jr. will get the mount for the first time.

Michael Langford’s Miss Atlantic, runner-up in the Iowa Distaff, will also go to post Aug. 16. The daughter of Stormy Atlantic  has won two of seven starts this year, both allowance sprints.

Two fillies that have faced stiff competition could be factors in the Gardenia. Jim Tafel’s Windyindy was ambitiously placed in the April 9 Madison (gr. II) and May 3 Humana Distaff (gr. I), but finished seventh in both events. The A.P. Indy filly, who is 3-4-2 from 17 lifetime starts, enters off a runner-up performance in allowance-optional claiming company July 17 at Ellis Park. Calvin Borel will ride for Carl Nafzger.

The other one is Eagle Valley Farm’s Kathleens Reel, who enters off three consecutive graded stakes starts. The 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid  was last in the July 13 Delaware Handicap (gr. II), but managed to finish third in both the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) June 14 at Churchill Downs and Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) April 19 at Hawthorne. Trained by Ray Sibille, Kathleens Reel had tried blacktype competition in her last eight starts, with her lone win coming in her 3-year-old finale – the restricted Prime Rewards Stakes at Delta Downs.

$150,000 Gardenia Handicap (gr. III, Race 11, 5:34 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, One Mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Kathleens Reel (KY), 116, Corey J. Lanerie
2. Miss Atlantic (KY), 113, Tracy J. Hebert
3. Marquee Delivery (KY), 114, John McKee
4. Fancy Fusaichi (KY), 117, Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
5. Swift Temper (KY), 112, Victor Lebron
6. Unforgotten (FL), 116, Jamie Theriot
7. Windyindy (KY), 114, Calvin H. Borel