04/10/2013 6:46PM

Oaklawn: Rose to Gold all the way in Fantasy

Tom Keyser
Rose to Gold, with Calvin Borel riding, wins the Fantasy after leading all the way.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Rose to Gold will be heading into next month's Kentucky Oaks in top form after winning her second consecutive Grade 3 stakes Wednesday, the $400,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park. She led throughout for a 4 1/2-length win over Manuka Honey, while it was another length back in third to Marathon Lady.

The Fantasy opened the 39th annual Racing Festival of the South, a weeklong series of stakes run over the final four dates of the Oaklawn meet. The eight stakes are worth a cumulative $2.9 million, with the festival to continue Thursday with the $100,000 Carousel.

Rose to Gold ($3.40) broke on top in the Fantasy, a 1 1/16-mile run in the rain and on a track rated sloppy. Rose to Gold proceeded to dole out fractions of 23.31 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.55 for the half-mile, and 1:12.36 for six furlongs under jockey Calvin Borel, with Manuka Honey chasing a length back in second. Rose to Gold separated herself from her rivals in the stretch, and went on to cover the distance in 1:45.80.

"Time-wise, it might not look that good, but I was very impressed because she gave me 12, 12, 12's all the way, just like I wanted," Borel said of the eighth-mile splits from Rose to Gold. "I let her go on a little bit after the race for another sixteenth of a mile, and it was still there, so I was very, very satisfied."

The Kentucky Oaks, a Grade 1, $1 million race to be run at Churchill Downs on May 3, is over a 1 1/8 miles, and the distance is well within Rose to Gold's scope, said Borel. 

"She'll go all day long," he said.

Sal Santoro, who trains Rose to Gold, said the filly would travel Friday to Churchill Downs.
Rose to Gold will be facing a deep cast in the Kentucky Oaks, a race in which she figures to be a much higher price than her 3-5 odds in the Fantasy.

"I think Rose has brought herself to the point where she needs to be there," Santoro said. "Whatever happens, happens, whether we're under the radar or not. Since Day One this is a $1,400 filly, and she's taken us this far. If she loses by 100 lengths, we still come out winners."

Rose to Gold was a yearling purchase at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky in February 2011. She has now won 5 of 7 starts and $717,889 for owners Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti. All of Rose to Gold's wins have come in dirt route stakes, starting with the Lindsay Frolic at her Calder base last August. Her other wins include the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess last November. Rose to Gold is a diminutive chestnut daughter of Friends Lake.

"She's just nothing but heart," said Borel, who won the 2009 Fantasy and Kentucky Oaks with Rachel Alexandra.