May 23, 2022

Van Berg hoping for a more relaxed pace from Motion Emotion in Fantasy

Motion Emotion is two-for-three at Oaklawn this meet (Coady Photography)

The jury remains out on who may pose the most serious threat to Bellafina in next month’s Kentucky Oaks (G1). Perhaps the answer might emerge from Friday’s $500,000 Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park, the last remaining Road to the Kentucky Oaks series prep which will award qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

The likely favorite is Motion Emotion, who won a maiden and an allowance earlier in the meet before finishing second in the Honeybee (G3) after setting a quick pace. Trainer Tom Van Berg, unhappy with the fractions set in the Honeybee, has replaced Jon Court with Mike Smith for the Fantasy.

“Just an unfortunate situation last time,” said Van Berg, who though Motion Emotion would be in a tracking position in the Honeybee. “Sometimes you get a little excited. I think the race before, she did it so easy on the front end…she’s very deceiving. She’s got such a high cruising speed.”

California shipper Brill has already had a taste, and possibly her fill, of Bellafina, having finished well behind that rival in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Chandelier (G1) last year. However, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained daughter of Medaglia d’Oro makes her second start over the Oaklawn strip Friday after finishing a solid second in a six-furlong allowance there three weeks ago and might fare better.

Also invading from out of town are Grade 3 winner Oxy Lady, Orra Moor, and Filly Joel, the respective first-, second-, and fifth-place finishers in the $250,000 Busher at Aqueduct on March 9. K P Slickem is also looking for additional Oaks qualifying points after a recent second-place finish in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks.

Trainer Steve Asmussen sends out the Curlin filly Lady Apple, a two-length allowance winner over the Brad Cox-trained Irish Mischief at Oaklawn last month. Cox also has Cosmic Code, second in three straight allowances at Fair Grounds including a photo-finish loss to eventual Fair Grounds Oaks (G1) winner Street Band on January 13.