May 28, 2020

Champion British Idiom looks to regain winning ways in Fantasy

British Idiom wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Photos 2019
British Idiom wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (Horsephotos.com)

Arguably a touch short when second in her season debut in mid-February, reigning juvenile filly champion British Idiom will look to rebound for trainer Brad Cox in Friday’s $400,000 Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park.

Due to the limited racing opportunities available during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fantasy has attracted a stellar field of 14 3-year-old fillies. It was rescheduled earlier in April to the original date of the Kentucky Oaks (G1), which has been postponed to September. The Fantasy offers Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Alcibiades (G1) last season, British Idiom could not catch an in-form Finite in the Feb. 15 Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds, finishing second by 4 3/4 lengths. Although that rival, and the Cox-trained Bonny South, who subsequently beat Finite in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), are not among the Fantasy participants, British Idiom’s task will nonetheless be stiff.

Venetian Harbor is the probable favorite after two convincing wins in Santa Anita over the winter, including a 9 1/4-romp in the Las Virgenes (G2). Venetian Harbor drew a favorable post (2) for the Fantasy and should show her customary speed, but will face much better fillies than appeared in the five-horse Las Virgenes.

Breaking to the immediate right of Venetian Harbor will be Swiss Skydiver, who showed unexpected speed in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and won gate-to-wire in a 9-1 upset for trainer Kenny McPeek. Farther back in third was Demoiselle (G2) winner Lake Avenue, who showed a much improved effort off a dull fourth in the Busher S. at Aqueduct earlier in March for Bill Mott.

Harvey’s Lil Goil, a daughter of American Pharoah who displayed her own distance prowess taking the 9-furlong Busanda S. by more than seven lengths at Aqueduct in early February, might prove the better of the two Mott trainees though faces the effects of a three-month layoff.

In addition to those Kentucky Oaks prep winners, the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy has also attracted another in the Cox-trained Shedaresthedevil, who edged Alta’s Award by three parts of a length in the Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn in early March. Lazy Daisy won the very first prep in the series, the Pocahontas (G2) at Churchill in September, but was a non-factor when last seen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

A potential threat with improvement is Fire Coral, a Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Curlin who was a convincing allowance winner at Oaklawn on Mar. 12. New York Groove, a multiple stakes winner over Presque Isle Downs’ Tapeta surface last season, tries the dirt after flopping on grass in the Florida Oaks (G3) last time.

Friday is the penultimate day of the 2020 racing season at Oaklawn. The Fantasy anchors a strong 10-race card and has a scheduled post time of 6:09 p.m. ET.