If the connections of Ria Antonia were looking for an excellent spot to help their filly rebound off two bad defeats, they could not have found a better one than the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows Racetrack June 28, in which she will face eight opponents going 1 1/16 miles.
It’s not that the competition is weak as much as the fact the daughter of Rockport Harbor—Beer Baroness, by Mr. Greeley gets in the race carrying a feathery 112 pounds, a nine-pound drop from her two previous disasters in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), in which she was beaten nearly 16 lengths, and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), where she finished last of 10, beaten 31 lengths.
Ria Antonia began the year with great promise after being placed first on a disqualification in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). But a dull fourth-place finish in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, in which she was beaten 14 lengths at 2-1, jolted her connections back to reality.
Originally trained by Ricky Griffith and then Jeremiah Englehart, she was then turned over to Bob Baffert in the belief she would handle the Santa Anita Park surface better than the surfaces back east. That thinking looked to be on target when she rebounded with a solid second-place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I). But then came her poor effort in the Kentucky Oaks and it was off to Tom Amoss’ barn to prepare for her ambitious attempt the Preakness.
Amoss will saddle the filly, owned by Looch Racing and Christopher T. Dunn, in the Iowa Oaks, with a jockey change from Calvin Borel to Julien Leparoux
Ria Antonia’s main threat could come from Sugar Shock. The daughter of Candy Ride has finished first in five of her last six starts, but was disqualified and placed second in the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park. Her other defeat was an inexplicable eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks.
But that appears to be an aberration, as Sugar Shock has shown her speed and class in her wire-to-wire victories in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn and the Panthers Stakes at Prairie Meadows in her last start, giving her a race over the track.
Because of her victories, however, she is forced to concede nine pounds to Ria Antonia. Channing Hill again has the mount for trainer Doug Anderson.
Sugar Shock could have competition up front from the lightly raced Size, second in the six-furlong Jersey Girl Stakes at Belmont. In her two career starts prior to that, the Bill Mott-trained filly scored front-running victories at Gulfstream and Aqueduct, both of those races also at six furlongs. So, the daughter of First Samurai should show good speed under Junior Alvarado.
Dream Spinner, breaking from the far outside, is another who has experience over the track, finishing third in the Goldfinch Stakes at Prairie Meadows and second in the Panthers. The daughter of Hard Spun gets in with 115 pounds.
Thank You Marylou, trained by Mike Maker for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is always dangerous, having won a stakes at Colonial Downs in her career debut, an overnight stakes at GulfstreamPark this year, and placed in the grade II Adirondack Stakes and grade I Ashland Stakes. In her last start, she was fifth, beaten over 12 lengths, in the Kentucky Oaks. Cornelio Velasquez has the mount.
$200,000 Iowa Oaks (gr. III, Race 7, post time 9:11 p.m. EDT, 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 miles)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Awesome Jill (KY), R. Santana Jr., 115, M. Lovell
2. Designer Legs (LA), R.J. Albarado, 115, D. Stewart
3. Size (KY), J. Alvarado, 115, W. Mott
4. Ria Antonia (KY), J. Leparoux, 112, T. Amoss
5. Sugar Shock KY), C. Hill, 121, D. Anderson
6. Tiz Windy (KY), B. Hernandez Jr., 115, C. Nafzger
7. Thank You Mary Lou (VA), C. Velasquez, 118, M. Maker
8. Senior Prom (KY), C. Lanerie, 115, D. Romans
9. Dream Spinner (KY), J. Loveberry, 115, M. Raidt