Familiar Rivals Cosmic Burst, Amy’s Challenge Meet In Oaklawn’s Fantasy

Cosmic Burst and Amy’s Challenge, two of the top locally based 3-year-old fillies this year at Oaklawn Park, are scheduled to meet again in the $400,000, Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes Friday afternoon at the Hot Springs, Ark., track.

The Fantasy goes as the seventh of 10 races, with probable post time of 4:33 p.m. CDT. Doors open Friday at 11 a.m., with first post 1:30 p.m.

The projected eight-horse Fantasy field from the rail out: Sassy Sienna, Gary Stevens to ride, 117 pounds, 8-1 on the morning line; Harbor Lights, Ricardo Santana Jr., 117, 6-1; Tahoe Dream, Alex Canchari, 117, 20-1; Cosmic Burst, Richard Eramia, 121, 7-2; Bo Peep, Jon Court, 117, 30-1; Amy’s Challenge, Mike Smith, 121, 5-2; Princess Warrior, Ramon Vazquez, 117, 8-1; and Wonder Gadot, David Cabrera, 121, 2-1.

Cosmic Burst and Amy’s Challenge finished 1-2, respectively, in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 10, the final major local prep for the Fantasy. Amy’s Challenge, who was making her two-turn debut, opened a long lead down the backstretch before collared late by Cosmic Burst and suffering her first loss in four career starts.

“I would assume so,” said Donnie K. Von Hemel, trainer of Cosmic Burst, when asked if he believed Amy’s Challenge would be loose on the lead again. “How much does she improve, her second route race?”

Amy’s Challenge switches to a Hall of Famer in Smith after being ridden in her previous four races by Jareth Loveberry. She won the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 20 in her 3-year-old debut before being beaten 1 ¾ lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee.

“Obviously, he’s a little different,” trainer McLean “Mac” Robertson said, referring to Smith. “That’s why they put him on fast fillies.”

Robertson said Amy’s Challenge was keyed up in the post parade before the Honeybee and that behavior carried over into the race. She has recorded two half-mile bullet workouts since the Honeybee, but Robertson said he’s tried to take the edge off during her daily training.

“I’ve been galloping her with a pony because she gets a little more attached to the pony,” Robertson said. “In the morning, they get attached to the pony, the less aggressive they are.”

The consistent Wonder Gadot – no worse than third in 7 of 8 lifetime starts – exits a third-place finish in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) March 24 at Fair Grounds for trainer Mark Casse. She closed her 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes (G2) Dec. 2 at Aqueduct.

Sassy Sienna finished third in the Honeybee and second in the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 10 for trainer Brad Cox.

“I guess the Casse horse was kind of the surprise, as far as being in the race,” Von Hemel said. “But she looks plenty tough. It should be a good race, I think.”

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