05/17/2006 12:00AM

Rich Fantasy quells concerns

Email
Benoit & Associates
Rich Fantasy, here winning the Ribbon on May 13 on two weeks' rest, is under consideration for several stakes.

CHICAGO - Say what you will about the Illinois-bred 3-year-old filly Rich Fantasy. Just don't say it to her on a wet racetrack.

Rich Fantasy is liable to run through a brick wall when she feels a muddy, soaked track under her feet. Her trainer, Ronny Werner, had fretted at least a little about running Rich Fantasy back last Saturday at Arlington only two weeks after her fast second-place finish in an Illinois-bred stakes race at Hawthorne. No worries. Rich Fantasy turned the sloppy track into her own little playground, winning an open overnight sprint stakes named the Ribbon by six lengths. Her swift time of 1:09.40 for six furlongs was good for a Beyer Speed Figure of 96, a career-best number.

"I tell you what, I was pleasantly surprised because two weeks was a quick turnaround," Werner said Wednesday from his base at Churchill Downs. "I knew she'd like the surface, but it's always a concern when you come back in two weeks, even as good as they might be doing or feeling."

Rich Fantasy validated the sense she's one of the best Illinois-bred 3-year-olds going, at least around one turn, and she also flattered the horse that beat her in that Hawthorne stakes, Taylor Madison. And Werner said that despite the short break between starts, Rich Fantasy had come out of her Saturday win "really good."

The June 24 Prairie State Festival with its six Illinois-bred stakes marks the next logical Arlington spot for Rich Fantasy, but Werner said he also had nominated Rich Fantasy to the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill, which, like the statebred stakes here next month, is contested at a one-turn mile.

"That's June 3, so that'd be coming back pretty quick," he said. "I don't know - we'll just have to wait and see how she's doing."

Will short rest hurt Teller Line?

A horse's relatively short break between starts also could figure prominently in the featured eighth race Friday at Arlington, a one-mile dirt race for third-level allowance horses or $62,500 claimers. The favorite and horse to beat clearly is Teller Line, who easily won her most recent start - perhaps too recent. Teller Line raced May 5, and her best performances, most of which have come at Arlington, have happened after a break of a month or more between starts. And while trainer Mike Campbell knows better than the rest of us how his horse is doing, those looking to beat the favorite might be on to something Friday.

Two upset candidates come from the barn of trainer Brian Williamson, but it would be difficult to say whether Tuffted or Woodland Sprite has a better shot. Tuffted is more accomplished, while Woodland Sprite has more upside. And a mare named Defuhr also deserves consideration. Defuhr was no match for Teller Line in that May 5 race, finishing fourth, but that performance looks on form like a means to an end, not Defuhr's peak effort.

Fort Prado returns to training

Fort Prado had to miss the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Derby at Churchill Downs because he developed an abscess in a front hoof, but the foot problem has stayed under control, and Fort Prado went back to the racetrack for morning training beginning Monday, trainer Chris Block said.

"We're just back jogging," Block said. "I'm trying to be conservative because the area it came out in is probably vulnerable to being separated underneath there, and I don't want him to develop a quarter crack. So far we're okay."

Fort Prado, an Illinois-bred middle-distance turf horse, has won three straight open stakes, the most recent of which was a three-length victory in the April 8 Connally Breeders' Cup at Sam Houston. Block said he wouldn't specifically target Fort Prado's next start until the horse had progressed to steady gallops in the morning.

Juveniles start their engines

It's taken a while, but the 2-year-olds are finally going. Chicago's first baby race of the year kicks off the Friday card, and the first horse in the first race looks much like a winner. That horse is She Is Dreaming of Anna, a first-time starter bred and owned by Frank Calabrese and trained by Wayne Catalano. She is a full sister to Lewis Michael, who runs for those same connections in Saturday's Peter Pan at Belmont Park.