04/08/2013 3:16PM

Oaklawn Park: Rose to Gold prepping for Kentucky Oaks in Fantasy

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Rose to Gold is out to become the latest horse to pull a Fantasy-KentuckyOaks double since Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Blind Luck in 2010.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Rose to Gold has been nearly perfect in dirt routes in a record that should make her a strong favorite to win the fifth stakes race of her young career Wednesday in the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn.

The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies is Rose to Gold’s final prep for the Kentucky Oaks, the May 3 race she has been pointed to since winning last fall’s Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess.

“If all goes well, we’ll run in the Oaks,” trainer Sal Santoro said. “That’s the plan right now.”

But Santoro said the first order of business is the Fantasy, which opens Oaklawn’s 39-year-old Racing Festival of the South. The festival comprises eight stakes worth $2.9 million, all run over the final four dates of the meet that closes Saturday.

[FANTASY STAKES: Get Oaklawn Park PPs, watch video preview]

The Fantasy is one of five graded races during the festival, and while it has been downgraded from last year’s status as a Grade 2, its purse has received a boost of $100,000. The Fantasy also offers its first four finishers a respective 100-40-20-10 points on the road to the Oaks.

Rose to Gold, who sits seventh on the points leaderboard with 64, is seeking to become the latest horse to pull a Fantasy-Oaks double since Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Blind Luck in 2010. She is 4 for 5 in dirt routes, with her latest such score coming in the Grade 3, $150,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn on March 9. She led throughout to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Flashy Gray, who closed as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.

“When Flashy Gray came to her on the backside and she pulled away, and when she came to her again in the stretch and she just pulled away, I was quite surprised, because she’s never really won gate to wire,” Santoro said of Rose to Gold. “It kind of opened up like another dimension to her. If the need arises and she has to go to the lead, she’s not going to wait for anybody. She’ll be comfortable on the front end.”

Santoro said pace decisions will be left up to Calvin Borel, who has the mount from post 3.

Marathon Lady figures to start as the second choice after being edged by a nose in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway in her last start March 23.

“She ran a great race, just didn’t get the nod on the wire,” said Steve Hobby, who trains Marathon Lady.

The effort came one start after Marathon Lady won a maiden special weight route in her third career start Feb. 21 at Oaklawn.

“Each race, she seemed to move forward in her training and has run that way,” Hobby said. “This race, I’m coming back so fast I haven’t got to work her, but she’s full of herself. She’s just really happy right now. She’s going the right way.”

Hobby said Marathon Lady is not a candidate for the Oaks.

“I would not do that after running her back this fast from the race at Turfway,” he said. “If she runs well here, we’d maybe aim for the Black-Eyed Susan.”

Hung the Moon, another contender in the seven-horse Fantasy, won a maiden race over Marathon Lady on Feb. 3 at Oaklawn, then came back and took a first-level allowance here March 1.

“I think she knows how to win,” said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Hung the Moon. “She’s run three times, won two of them, and tried to win the other one. I think that’s good, a young horse that knows what they’re there to do. And she likes the distance.”

Hung the Moon is not currently nominated to the Oaks, but were she to run well she has an opportunity to join the list, as late nominations to the race close Wednesday, Von Hemel noted.

Others in the Fantasy include Manuka Honey, who comes off a seven-length win in the Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs.

“She did that with ease last time,” trainer John Terranova said. “It was good for her. She’s coming in really confident.”

Edgar Prado has the mount on Manuka Honey, who arrived early Monday morning at Oaklawn.