01/26/2009 1:00AM

Mr. Fantasy looking quite for real


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - As impressive as Mr. Fantasy was winning his debut last month, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin resisted the temptation of putting the young colt in a stakes race for his second start.

McLaughlin targeted a first-level allowance race restricted to New York-bred 3-year-olds and got lucky when the race filled with enough entries to be carded Wednesday as Aqueduct's feature race. McLaughlin may need his luck to hold out a little longer.

Mother Nature, more so than the six rivals entered against him, may be Mr. Fantasy's biggest obstacle Wednesday. A winter storm is forecast beginning Tuesday night that could bring two to four inches of snow to the area, putting Wednesday's card in jeopardy. Of course, the weathermen in this area have been known to get it wrong every so often.

If Wednesday's card is run, Mr. Fantasy looks every bit the 1-5 favorite Aqueduct oddsmaker Eric Donovan has him pegged at. In his debut on Dec. 28, Mr. Fantasy broke a step slowly, but then raced to a front-running 10 1/2-length victory. He ran six furlongs in 1:10.51 and earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

"We liked him, and he's very talented and athletic, but any time a horse wins that impressive when you think they might need a run first time out, it was kind of a 'wow!' race," McLaughlin said. "You don't get that many 'wow!' races a year."

Mr. Fantasy is a half-brother to Tin Cup Chalice, who won the Big Apple Triple as well as the Indiana Derby in 2008. McLaughlin is hoping to run Mr. Fantasy in the Gotham on March 7, and felt an allowance race was the best way to get him there.

"He just broke his maiden against New York-breds. Even though he was impressive and did it the right way, the race is there," McLaughlin said. "We want to run back in an allowance race and not jump up to a graded stakes race right away. We can stretch him out from there next time."

Alan Garcia is expected to give up a day of racing at Gulfstream Park to ride Mr. Fantasy. Garcia flew here on Jan. 19 to ride Taqarub to victory in the Jimmy Winkfield for McLaughlin.

Legal Consent, who won the New York Breeders Futurity at Finger Lakes, is a possible threat to Mr. Fantasy. But Legal Consent would need a horse such as That's Rich to put some early pressure on Mr. Fantasy to set up his late run.