04/08/2011 3:22PM

Oaklawn: Joyful Victory, Arienza hope to use Fantasy as springboard to Kentucky Oaks

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Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Joyful Victory, winning the Honeybee, could move on to the Kentucky Oaks with a good effort in Sunday's Fantasy.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Blind Luck and Rachel Alexandra both parlayed Fantasy victories into Kentucky Oaks gold in their next starts. The connections of Joyful Victory and Arienza would love to see their fillies do the same. They are the top choices in this year’s Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy, which will be run Sunday at Oaklawn Park.

A field of five will go, with Holy Heavens and Explosive Disco starting as a coupled entry. The field is completed by the stakes-placed Jelly Cable. The Fantasy, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, continues the Racing Festival of the South, when at least one major stakes is run on each of the final six programs of the meet at Oaklawn.

Joyful Victory has already established herself as a leading candidate for next month’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks. She did so in the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn on March 12, when she stalked the pace then swept to a more than eight length win in the 1 1/16-mile race that served as her first start since finishing fifth in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

“Needless to say, we didn’t have to use her a whole lot for the last race,” said Larry Jones, who trains Joyful Victory for Fox Hill Farm. “She got – I say tired – she was slowing down. But I don’t know how much more she had in the tank. She sure didn’t come back to the barn and act the next day or two like she had done too much. It sure shouldn’t be a bounce race [Sunday]. It should be a progressive move forward. She’s telling us that’s what it’s going to be.”

Mike Smith is back to ride Joyful Victory, whose goal is the Kentucky Oaks.

“Hopefully, the third race off a layoff will be the big fire,” said Jones.

Arienza has been one of the most exciting 3-year-olds on the grounds, in large part because she is a daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri. She’s also living up to her pedigree, as she is undefeated in two starts. Arienza won her maiden over six furlongs March 6, then came back and conquered two turns in a March 27 allowance, wiring the field at a mile to earn a Fantasy-best Beyer Figure of 90.

Arienza’s speed should serve her well in the small field Sunday.

“I think we might have a little bit of a tactical advantage,” said Dan Peitz, who trains Arienza for Robert and Lawana Low. “Now whether that’s going to overcome the experience and the proven class, I don’t know if it’s enough to overcome that.”

Arienza, however, has come to hand rapidly this meet, said Peitz.

“We’ve come a long way,” he said. “If you’d have asked me five weeks ago if I’d be thinking of the Fantasy and the Kentucky Oaks, it would have been a fantasy thought. Now, I’m actually thinking we’ve got a legitimate shot in here, and you know, it’s kind of exciting.”

Arienza has been that kind of filly, with her efficient stride carrying her to clear wins in both of her races. She will be ridden for the first time Sunday by Ramon Dominguez.

Trainer Benard Chatters counters with Explosive Disco, who will add blinkers, and Holy Heavens, a stakes winner at the meet who was second last out in the Honeybee. Both will bring different running styles into the Fantasy.

“Holy Heavens, we’ll let her fall way from there and run the way she runs,” said Chatters. “She’s a closer. She likes to fall back and make one good run.”

Explosive Disco enters the Fantasy off a third-place finish to Arienza in the March 27 allowance.

“She ran a good race the last time,” said Chatters. “We let Arienza get out there all alone and we won’t do that again.”

Israel Ocampo will ride Holy Heavens, while Jon Court has the mount on Arienza.