04/14/2017 6:03PM

Ever So Clever wins Fantasy Stakes to stamp ticket to Oaks

Coady Photography
Ever So Clever gives trainer Steve Asmussen his second straight victory in the Fantasy Stakes.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Ever So Clever has run some of the best races of her career at Churchill Downs, and she secured a spot in the starting gate for next month’s Kentucky Oaks on Friday, when she picked up 100 eligibility points for her 1 3/4-length win over Chanel’s Legacy in the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn.

The Fantasy was the first of two stakes on a card that included the Grade 1, $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap, won by champion Stellar Wind. The races continued the Racing Festival of the South, a grouping of major stakes over the final week of the meet that closes Saturday with the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

The Fantasy carried 170 eligibility points for the Kentucky Oaks, with Chanel’s Legacy earning 40 for her runner-up finish. In addition, third-place finisher Vexatious picked up 20 and fourth-place finisher Torrent, 10.

Ever So Clever ($33.60) won her career debut last July at Churchill, shuttling to a 7 1/4-length win in a maiden special weight sprint. She also ran second there in the Grade 2 Pocahontas in September and was third in the Grade 2 Golden Rod in November.

The Fantasy was the first stakes win of her career, and after breaking out of the 12 hole, she was guided to the rail by Luis Contreras and had just a few horses beat early as Chanel’s Legacy moved to the lead and put up fractions of 23.37 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.03 for the half-mile, and 1:11.18 for six furlongs. Ever So Clever advanced down the backside between horses, began to roll around the final turn, entered the stretch six wide, and ran down the leader. She covered the 1 1/16 miles on a track rated fast in 1:43.40.

“She’s a very nice filly,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains the winner for Clearview Stable. “Luis did a tremendous job from the 12 hole, saved all the ground on the first turn.”

Asmussen was winning the Fantasy for the second straight year, following Terra Promessa’s victory last  year.

Ever So Clever earned $240,000 for the win, which was her third from eight career starts. She has banked $377,850. She is a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and was bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms.

The remaining order of finish was favorite Benner Island in fifth, followed by My Sweet Stella, Spooky Woods, Dutch Parrot, Conquest Bandido, Drinks On Broadway, Kell Paso, and Conquest Slayer.

The Kentucky Oaks will be run May 5.