Shapiro's Fantasy Stakes Day Pick 4

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April 30th, 2020

The penultimate late Pick 4 of the 2020 Oaklawn Park meeting is a good one. The sequence slated for the final four races on Friday afternoon in Hot Springs includes three stakes events and is headlined by the $400,000 Fantasy (G2) at 1 1/16 miles.

Race 7: Arkansas Breeders’ Championship S.

The pace should be contentious in this two-turn, $165,000 event given the presence of #2 Souixper Charger, #7 Destiny Way, and #8 Heritage Park. Of the three, Souixper Charger has the best chance of getting to the wire first, but the race shape is likely to set things up for an Arkansas-bred from off the pace.

A lot of handicappers are likely to lean on #3 K J’s Nobiilty. The 6-year-old enters Friday in great form having won two straight races. The son of Primary Suspect was impressive in winning the Nodouble Breeders’ S. last month and has been extremely consistent, but Friday’s distance is a concern. In his only try at 1 1/16 miles, he ran second, but did post his slowest Brisnet Speed rating (87) since arriving in the Cecil Borel barn last March. I will fade the 5-2-morning line choice in favor of a number of runners that can provide some early separation in the sequence.   

My top choice is #1 Promising Shoes. The Prom Shoes gelding moves back into state-bred competition after being banged around at the start and forced extremely wide into the stretch when last seen on Apr. 11. With a cleaner beginning, the 6-year-old should be able to work out a much more favorable voyage. The move to leading rider Ricardo Santana Jr. and the success at the distance make him a solid play anywhere near his 5-1-morning line price.

I will also include #4 Hamazing Vision, who looks to make it three in a row for leading trainer Robertino Diodoro; #5 Prospector Fever; and #9 Bandit Point.

Race 8: Gardenia S.

I will single in the first of two stakes events for 3-year-old fillies.

#10 Antoinette raced over the lawn in her initial two starts before trying the main track when the Tepin S. at Aqueduct was washed off the sod. The daughter of Hard Spun took to the dirt in that Dec. try winning by 1 3/4 lengths before getting some time off to prepare for her 3-year-old campaign.

Bill Mott exuded confidence with the Godolphin homebred by shipping Antoinette to New Orleans to take on some of the best in her crop in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her first race off the layoff.  In that event in Louisiana, the Kentucky-bred appeared loaded on the far turn, but was caught behind rivals allowing the eventual top two finishers to get the jump. She finished third.

With a race under her belt this year, look for Antoinette to relax better in the early stages and have plenty of run when they turn for home. I love her chances to spring the minor upset.   

Race 9: Fantasy (G3)

#2 Venetian Harbor is a deserving 2-1-morning line favorite off of a pair of dominating frontrunning performances at Santa Anita Park. If she is left alone on the lead she will once again be tough to catch. That being said, I do not expect her to have things easy in the early going given the presence of #4 Lake Avenue and #8 Ring Leader.

I am not willing to fade Venetian Harbor or 2-year-old champion #10 British Idiom, who was flat in her first start of the year in the Rachel Alexandra in mid-February, but I will use several others including my lukewarm top choice #3 Swiss Skydiver. The Daredevil filly took advantage of a slow early pace in her first graded stakes victory in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), but is far from a need-the-lead type. Look for Brian Hernandez Jr. to save ground off the early pace and angle out for a strong run when they hit the top of the lane.  

Race 10:

I had a difficult time separating the top three choices on the morning line in the Friday finale. If I was singling a short-priced runner I would take a stand, but in this case, I am willing to use #6 Spend Spend Spend, #7 Wholehearted, and #8 La Chancla.

I love La Chancla’s upside, but she has been on the sidelines since last summer. And so has Spend Spend Spend. Both will need to get back to their 2019 form to give 6-year-old mare Wholehearted a battle to the wire.

Suggested Wager (50-cent wager):

1,4,5,9 with 10 with 2,3,4,5,7,10 with 6,7,8 = $36