04/15/2009 12:00AM

Fantasia romps in Nell Gwyn


Whatever sum George Strawbridge paid for Fantasia in January looks like money well spent, as that 3-year-old daughter of Sadler's Wells was most impressive in her seasonal debut at Newmarket on Wednesday, drawing clear to win the Group 3, $96,000 Nell Gwyn Stakes by seven lengths.

Handily placed under Frankie Dettori at the rear of the 11-runner field, the 4-5 Fantasia was still last at the quarter pole when she made her move. Taken wide to the far side of the seven-furlong straight course, she responded instantly, cruising past her rivals to lead approaching the eighth pole and extending her advantage with every stride. Kempton maiden winner Damaniyat Girl was second, with First City third. Fantasia's winning time on good to firm ground was 1:26.93.

Trainer Luca Cumani, who engineered Fantasia's juvenile victory in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes and her second-place finish to Rainbow View in the Group 1 Fillies Mile when she was owned by Fittocks Stud and Anthony Bengough, is now in something of a quandary. In any other year, Fantasia would be the favorite for the 1000 Guineas on May 3, but as Strawbridge also owns the John Gosden-trained Rainbow View, Cumani will most likely be sending Fantasia to Longchamp for the Poule d'Essai de Pouliches, or French 1000 Guineas, on May 10.

Newmarket racegoers got a firsthand look at Rainbow View before racing began on Wednesday when she worked on the track. Her move so impressed the bookies that they cut her 1000 Guineas price to 3-2 from 8-5. But after Fantasia's fantastic performance, William Hill slashed her Guineas odds from 10-1 to 5-2, despite the probability that her next outing will be at Longchamp. It may take a brainstorming session among Strawbridge, Cumani, and Gosden before their fillies' next assignments are sorted out.