10/16/2010 7:37PM

Nakatani guides Fantastic Pick to 22-1 surprise in Oak Tree Derby

Benoit & Associates
Fantastic Pick wins the Oak Tree Derby - only three races after having run for a $50,000 claiming tag.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Fantastic Pick, the winner of a $50,000 claiming race at Del Mar in July, is worth much more now.

Saturday, Fantastic Pick won for the third time in his last four starts in the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby. He also won an optional claimer on Aug. 15 in which he was eligible to be claimed for $80,000. The only loss in that sequence was a fourth behind Twirling Candy in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 5.

In the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby, Fantastic Pick ($46.20) benefited from an ideal trip under jockey Corey Nakatani. For the first mile of the race over 1 1/8 miles on turf, Nakatani had Fantastic Pick in a stalking position behind pacesetter Blue Panis, who set a modest pace of 24.22 and 49.21 seconds.

Under right-handed urging, Fantastic Pick loomed alongside Blue Panis in the last sixteenth and won by a head, finishing in 1:48.51. Fantastic Pick was the longest shot in the field.

“I was trying to bide my time,” Nakatani said. “He was going so easily.”

The win gave trainer Jamie Lloyd his first success in a graded stakes.
“From the three eighths pole, I was really excited,” Lloyd said.

Kid Edward closed well to finish third, a half-length behind Blue Panis, in the field of eight. Make Music for Me, the 2-1 favorite, finished last. He was difficult for jockey Brice Blanc to handle on the backstretch, trying to veer out while running second or third on the backstretch, and faded through the last three furlongs.

Make Music for Me’s performance left trainer Alexis Barba perplexed. “I have no idea” what happened, she said.

Fantastic Pick races for a partnership led by Jim Ford. Fantastic Pick has won 5 of 15 starts and $191,773. He began his career in England, where he won 2 of 7 starts.