Though his prized filly Rose to Gold remains at Oaklawn Park in advance of Wednesday’s Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes, co-owner Alex Centofanti was at Calder Saturday morning to discuss his Kentucky Oaks hopeful, winner of last year’s Brave Raj and Lindsay Frolic Stakes at Calder and most recently the heroine of the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes.
“When I saw (favorite) Flashy Gray in the paddock before the race (Honeybee), she was such a good looking filly, I thought we were in trouble,” Centofanti confessed. “Honestly, I just wanted her to run a good race and put up a fight, but I really didn’t think we would win.”
But win is exactly what the filly did, thanks in large part to a deft ride by jockey Calvin Borel.
“When the gates opened, I was a little surprised to see her go right to the lead like she did,” Centofanti said. “With a veteran rider like Calvin, you don’t want to say too much before the race because you have to trust them.”
Borel took the daughter of Friends Lake right to the lead and the filly was never caught, with Flashy Gray unable to get closer than two lengths, with the final margin of victory 2 ¾ lengths.
“When Calvin came back, he told me ‘Alex, I wasn’t trying to go to the lead, she just took me there,’” Centofanti said. “If you go back and look at the replay, she was on a loose rein most of the way. He let her do what she wanted, and that was perfect.”
Borel will be aboard Rose to Gold once again in the Fantasy, and with a good run, a start in the Kentucky Oaks, where having a Churchill specialist like Calvin is surely advantageous, seems likely. Although Centofanti refuses to look past Wednesday’s race.
“I don’t think about any of that right now,” Centofanti said. “She has been a miracle for me. And every race, I take one at a time; I’m just thankful we’ve got her.”
Centofanti will travel to Oaklawn on Tuesday. Post time for the Fantasy is 5:44 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.
CALDER OAKS NOMINATIONS
The 22nd running of the $100,000 Calder Oaks, to be run Saturday, April 13, has attracted 23 nominees, led by recent Gulfstream Park allowance winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf third-place finisher Summer of Fun.
Trained by George Weaver, for Bona Venture Stables, Summer of Fun broke her maiden at Saratoga last August, and although the daughter of Include could do no better than 10th when trying the Grade 2 Natalma in her stakes debut, she bounced back with a good third in the Grade 3 Jessamine before shipping to Santa Anita where she nearly pulled off a 43-1 Breeders’ Cup upset when beaten 1 ¾ lengths in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Besilu Stables’ Tapicat, a winner of three straight races including the Grade 3 Florida Oaks in her last start, was nominated to the Calder Oaks by trainer Bill Mott, while John Terranova has nominated $100,000 Suncoast Stakes winner Manuka Honey to the 1 1/16-mile turf stake.
Entries for the Calder Oaks will be taken Monday, April 8.