03/26/2009 11:00PM

Mr. Fantasy out of Wood


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The Wood Memorial lost its primary speed horse when the connections of Mr. Fantasy said they would bypass the Grade 1 race, to be run at Aqueduct next Saturday, adding that the 3-year-old colt would not be pointed to the Kentucky Derby.

Instead, Mr. Fantasy, who finished a well-beaten third behind I Want Revenge in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 7, will now point to the Grade 3, $150,000 Withers Stakes, a one-turn, one-mile race here on April 25. Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, which heads the partnership that owns Mr. Fantasy, said the Preakness on May 16 is possible for Mr. Fantasy, as are one-turn races such as the seven-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont on June 6. Bernardini used the Withers as a stepping-stone to success in the Preakness in 2006.

As a New York-bred, Mr. Fantasy is also a prime candidate for the Big Apple Triple, a three-race series restricted to New York-bred 3-year-olds which Tin Cup Chalice, a half-brother to Mr. Fantasy, swept last year. That series comprises the Mike Lee at Belmont in June, the New York Derby at Finger Lakes in July, and the Albany at Saratoga in August.

Finley said the decision to skip the Wood was made after Kiaran McLaughlin looked at Mr. Fantasy last Sunday before the trainer departed for Dubai. McLaughlin, who hadn't seen Mr. Fantasy since the Gotham, told Finley he felt the colt had lost weight and was tucked up a little bit.

"Just kind of putting everything together, it didn't seem like the right thing to do," Finley said of running in the Wood. "We got great partners on the horse; we walked through it with them. Obviously, everybody's disappointed because that's the dream everybody has. If it's not to be, it's not to be.

"We ruin a lot of horses going through the Triple Crown trail," Finley added. "I'd like to think we're doing the right thing by the colt. None of them are real mile-and-a-quarter horses. With only three starts under our belt, if he ran well enough [in the Wood] to get to the Derby we'd be forced to go, and that's not a spot we wanted to be in."

Mr. Fantasy won his first two starts, both against New York-breds, by a combined 19 lengths before his third-place finish in the Gotham.

As of Friday, a field of seven was expected for the Wood. With riders, the field should include I Want Revenge (Joe Talamo), Imperial Council (Edgar Prado), Atomic Rain (Joe Bravo), Danger to Society (Ramon Dominguez), Just a Coincidence (Paco Lopez), Lime Rickey (Javier Castellano), and West Side Bernie (Stewart Elliott).

The New York Racing Association confirmed Friday that the Wood would be broadcast live on MSG-Plus, a regional cable network that is also available on satellite outlets, in a one-hour program at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Breen runners get acclimated

West Side Bernie, who finished sixth as the favorite in the Lane's End Stakes on March 21, and his Kelly Breen-trained stablemate Atomic Rain both galloped over Aqueduct's inner track on Friday as they prepare for the Wood, which will be run on the main track. The main track opens for training on Tuesday.

Friday was the first day of serious training for both horses since they arrived earlier in the week. While Atomic Rain, who finished second to Old Fashioned in the Remsen here last November, has always been targeted for the Wood, West Side Bernie came under consideration only after his poor showing in the Lane's End.

"I wouldn't want to go to the Kentucky Derby off his last race just because we have enough earnings," Breen said. "It'd be too much of a question mark. I spoke to [owners] George and Lori Hall about this and they were for it."

Breen said the Lane's End didn't appear to take anything out of West Side Bernie.

"He seems to be in good order," Breen said. "It's a good news, bad news thing. The good news is he's feeling great. The bad news is he's feeling great because he didn't run his race. I'm happy to see how bright and alert he was."

Breen also brought King Puma to New York for Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore Stakes at seven furlongs. King Puma finished second as the favorite in the Hansel Stakes at Turfway on March 21.

By the Light rebounds

A drop in class combined with a patient ride resulted in a return to the winner's circle for By the Light, who won Friday's $66,250 Missy's Mirage Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over Moonshine Alice. It was five lengths back to Are We Dreamin in third.

It was the ninth victory from 14 career starts for By the Light, a New York-bred daughter of Malibu Moon owned by Jay Em Ess Stable and trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. She was running for the first time since finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie.

Friday, under Richard Migliore, By the Light ducked out at the start but then raced a close-up fourth while Lights Off Annie set the pace, pressed by Moonshine Alice with Carolyn's Cat just behind those two. By the Light made a four-wide move turning for home, and took charge inside the final furlong.

By the Light ($4.60) covered the six furlongs in 1:12.06.