Fantasticat Works at Churchill to Prep for Classic

by Kathleen Adams
Trainer Bobby Barnett insists it wasn't planned but admits it's an eerie coincidence his 2004 Breeders' Cup contender Fantasticat now occupies the stall at Churchill Downs that once housed Answer Lively, the horse he trained that won the 1998 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and went on to be named 2-year-old champion.

"That's just the way it happened," Barnett said. "We were talking about it the other day."

Immediately following the renovation break Oct. 24 at Churchill Downs, Barnett sent Fantasticat out for a final breeze before the $4-million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park. The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Storm Cat worked five-eighths of a mile in 59:03 on a track rated good after an overnight thunderstorm. Regular exercise rider Frankie Gonzales was aboard the colt.

"It looked just right," Barnett said after the work. "He usually goes in about a minute. I was glad to see him gallop out strong."

In 15 lifetime starts, Fantasticat has three wins, four seconds, and five thirds. Owned by Russ and Shelda Sherrod, the horse's latest win and only graded stakes victory came in the Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs. A win check of $300,000 boosted Fantasticat's total earnings to $423,584.

Ridden by jockey Gerard Melancon, Fantasticat edged out Borrego in the 1 1/8-mile Super Derby by a half-length. Barnett believes the added distance of the 1 ΒΌ-mile Classic will ultimately favor Fantasticat.

"Our horse has steadily improved with every race," Barnett said. "Hopefully, this coming Saturday, he'll be peaking. He'll be at his best."

Barnett said Melancon would ride Fantasticat in the Classic. The horse is scheduled to leave Louisville for Dallas Oct. 26. Fantasticat started off his racing career in Ireland under trainer Aidan O'Brien. The Sherrods purchased him after he broke his maiden at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.