08/17/2009 12:00AM

Magical Fantasy in Eclipse picture

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Benoit & Associates
Magical Fantasy, with jockey Alex Solis up, wins the Grade 1 John Mabee Stakes on Sunday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - With consecutive wins in Grade 1 races, including the John Mabee Stakes on Sunday at Del Mar, Magical Fantasy has given herself a chance to secure an Eclipse Award at year's end, a position she will attempt to strengthen in her next two starts.

Trainer Paddy Gallagher said Monday morning that Magical Fantasy had come out of the race well and would head to Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting for her next two races. Gallagher said Magical Fantasy likely would go in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon on Oct. 10 and then move on to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 6. Both those races are at 1 1/4 miles on turf.

Magical Fantasy earned an automatic berth into the BC Filly and Mare Turf because the Mabee is part of the Breeders' Cup Win and You're In program.

"She's just improving a little each time," Gallagher said. "She's got a lot of enthusiasm. She beat a lot of nice fillies. She had to run to catch them. I hope she can keep improving."

Magical Fantasy was much the best in the Mabee. She was bottled up in traffic near the back of a bunched field while going around the far turn, but was able to secure room between horses about four paths off the rail at the top of the stretch and quickly accelerated to beat Gotta Have Her by one length. She went from seventh to first in the final quarter-mile, completed 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.17, and flew through the final three furlongs in less than 35 seconds.

"She's so full of confidence," said her regular rider, Alex Solis. "She loves it here at Del Mar. It's amazing. She's such a big horse, and this is such a narrow track. When I got clear, she did her stuff. I had so much horse."

Magical Fantasy, 4, won the Del Mar Oaks last summer. She became the fourth filly in 40 years to win the Oaks and return the next year to win the Mabee, which was known as the Ramona Handicap until 2001.

Magical Fantasy has now won all three of her grass races this year. She won the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita in April and the Grade 1 Gamely at Hollywood Park in May.

Patricia's Gem shortening up

Patricia's Gem, who finished third in the Mabee after setting the pace until midstretch, will not be seeking a rematch against Magical Fantasy.

"We're going to regroup, keep her at a mile or under," trainer Richard Mandella said Monday morning. "She's just not mentally ready for the longer races right now. She took it all a little too serious."

Mandella said he thinks Patricia's Gem might do well as a late-running sprinter. With that in mind, he is contemplating pointing her to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, at seven furlongs on Pro-Ride. Patricia's Gem finished third in a pair of main-track sprints to begin her career at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting in October 2007, when Cushion Track, since replaced, was the surface.

Colonel John drills for Pacific Classic

Colonel John remained on target for the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic on Sept. 6 with an effortless five-furlong work in 1:01.80 on Monday morning. He went off slowly, finished with no pressure, then galloped out strongly. Of the 133 horses who recorded works at Del Mar on Monday, only two were given "breezing" designations by the clockers, and Colonel John was one of them.

"He goes better over this surface than the others," trainer Eoin Harty said.

Colonel John returned from a lengthy layoff to win the Wickerr Handicap on the turf in his last start.

Former assistants take on Baffert

Harty and Tim Yakteen, former assistants to Bob Baffert, take on the newly minted Hall of Fame trainer in the fourth race Wednesday, a one-mile maiden race for fillies and mares.

Baffert sends out Freedom Star, while Yakteen has Charlie's Princess, and Harty saddles Rising Honour.

Baffert was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday. He was back at work at Del Mar on Monday.

"I got a text message from him Friday morning saying he was washing out," Harty said. "He deserves to be there. I'm really happy for him. I'm happy to have worked for him. It was the most fun I've had without any responsibility."

Harty worked with Baffert from 1992 to 1999. Their first major win came in the 1992 Breeders' Cup Sprint with Thirty Slews. They won the Kentucky Derby twice, and the stable included two-time filly champ Silverbulletday, who also was inducted in the Hall of Fame on Friday.

"When I started, he had 16 horses," Harty said. "Thirty Slews was our first big horse."

Hameildaeme schools in gate for Oaks

The most interesting five minutes of Hameildaeme's career occurred around 5:38 p.m. on Aug. 1.

Before the start of the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap, she refused to load in the gate, forcing jockey Danny Sorenson to dismount and several members of the gate crew to coax the filly into the stalls.

It would have been no surprise if she had run poorly. Instead, Hameildaeme rallied from eighth in a field of 10 to finish third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, despite being bumped on the final turn.

"We didn't think what happened before the race got her beat, and getting bumped at the quarter pole didn't get her beat," trainer Jaime Lloyd said. "The combination didn't help."

Lloyd wants a quieter prerace routine before Saturday's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, Hameildaeme's next start.

To alleviate concern about her gate antics, Hameildaeme was schooled at the gate by exercise rider David Meah on Sunday morning. Meah has worked with Lloyd on Hameildaeme in recent months. The session went out off without incident.

"I was very happy with it," Lloyd said. "She walked straight in."

The key was the presence of a buggy whip, not used on Hameildaeme, but just shown to the filly as she walked into the gate.

Owned by Jim Ford, Hameildaeme has won 2 of 12 starts and $101,633 in the United States and England. Both of her wins have come in this country, a 44-1 upset in a maiden race at Santa Anita in April and an optional claimer at Hollywood Park in June.

In between, she finished second to Del Mar Oaks favorite Well Monied in an optional claimer over a mile on turf in May.

"She'd never run a mile before that race," Lloyd said.

Sorenson has been aboard for all four of Hameildaeme's starts and has the mount on Saturday.

Hameildaeme will be trying 1 1/8 miles for the first time in the Del Mar Oaks. It could give the filly, her 28-year-old trainer, and 51-year-old jockey their first wins in a Grade 1.

Meteore heading to Del Mar Derby

"We're derby bound."

That was trainer Richard Mandella's assessment after Meteore's first stakes win in Saturday's $150,000 La Jolla Handicap. The $350,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6 will be the colt's longest race, at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Ridden by Solis in the La Jolla, Meteore ($14) ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:40.82, finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front of Rendezvous. Gretsky, who raced in traffic on the final turn, rallied to finish third in the field of nine 3-year-olds.

Solis brought Meteore from last through traffic to win stylishly. He was under instructions to make one run.

"Richard asked me to take him back and save some ground," Solis said.

The win also was a relief to Mandella. Meteore was fifth as the favorite in the Oceanside Stakes here July 22, emerging with a bruised foot. The foot responded quickly to treatment, allowing Meteore to run in the La Jolla.

Owned by the Wertheimer family, Meteore has won 3 of 4 starts on turf. He showed a strong kick in his first two races, against maidens and an optional claimer, giving Mandella hope that the Del Mar Derby distance is within the colt's range.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen