Oaklawn wrap: Wet Paint sweeps fillies series with Fantasy win

Oaklawn wrap: Wet Paint sweeps fillies series with Fantasy win
Photo: Coady Photography / Oaklawn Park

Wet Paint became just the second in history to sweep Oaklawn’s series for 3-year-old fillies with her victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $600,000 Fantasy Stakes while also adding another 100 points toward Kentucky Oaks (G1) eligibility.

The Godolphin-owned 3-year-old had earned 20 points for winning the Martha Washington on Jan. 28 and 50 points for winning the Honeybee Stakes (G3) on Feb. 25, making her the points leader with 170.

Last under jockey Flavien Prat, Wet Paint just bided her time through opening fractions of 22.98 and 47.08 seconds through the first half-mile. The heavy 1-2 favorite was still eighth of 10 after three quarters of a mile, but had already begun to make her move. She came five wide into the stretch for the drive and drew off with authority to by 2 1/2 lengths over Taxed in 1:44.08 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. Oliva Twist was third.

Wet Paint, a Blame filly, improved her record to four wins from six starts and has now earned $689,000. She returned $3.20, $2.60 and $2.40.

Trainer Brad Cox said he was slightly nervous when he saw how far back Wet Paint was early, but she soon put his mind at ease.

“I guess when you break and they (the field) kind of gets away from you a bit you’re always a little concerned. But they were strung out a little bit. I saw the half in 47 (seconds) and thought she was going to be able to close into it, and she finished up well," he said. "When Flavien asked her to pick it up at the half-mile, you could tell he was riding her with a lot of confidence. At the three-eighths pole, she ranged up and was just cruising along. Very happy with how she finished up and galloped out. She ran great, won going away.”

Cox indicated the daughter of Blame would continue on to the Kentucky Oaks if she comes out of the Fantasy in good order.

“No doubt," he said when asked if the filly would travel to Louisville for the May 5 race. "It was five days from yesterday (Friday) as long as she comes out of it in good order, we’d expect her to. We’ll get her to Churchill at some point this week and get her ready for the Oaks.”

Cox indicated he expects to enter several fillies in the Oaks.

"Punch Bowl, Botanical, Flashy Gem, The Alys Look," he said, ticking off his possible starters. "I’m not sure they’ll all run, but I think we’re going to have a couple anyhow."

Hopper ships, wins Oaklawn Mile

Hopper made his first start outside California a winning one when he drew away from his competition to win the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for owners Lanni Bloodstock, Madaket Stables and SF Racing. Hopper, with John Velázquez in the irons, stalked the pace from third early. Atoka led the field through opening fractions of 22.42 and 45.56 seconds for the first quarter- and half-mile.

The winner and Caddo River began to engage the pacesetter around the turn for home. The latter took the narrow advantage, but he was unable to hold off Hopper, who drew off to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Smile Happy, the 6-5 favorite, got up for third after being last at one point in the race. The winning time was 1:37.63 for one mile over a fast track.

Hopper, a 4-year-old Declaration of War colt trained by Bob Baffert, improved his record to three wins from six starts and has earned $419,000. He returned $4.80, $3.00 and $2.20 as the 7-5 second choice.

Eyeing Clover wins 1st running of Hot Springs Stakes

Ten Strike Racing’s Eyeing Clover, who won at first asking at Oaklawn Dec. 31, returned to the track to win Saturday’s inaugural running of the $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile.

Eyeing Clover was fourth early as long shot Rocking Rocket set the pace of 23.01 and 46.85 seconds for the first half mile. The winner came up the rail entering the turn to inch closer to the leaders, was moved out by jockey Florent Geroux and closed determinedly to win by one length over 6-5 favorite Gun Pilot. Cactus finished third. The winning time was 1:39.45. 

Eyeing Clover, who was exiting a fourth-place finish in the Gotham Stakes (G3), improved his record to three wins from four starts and has now earned $230,650. He returned $5.60, $2.80 and $2.20 as the 9-5 second choice.

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