Wet Paint Back at Oaklawn in Highly Anticipated Fantasy
Having already sketched her name into headlines numerous times on the lead-up to the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1), Wet Paint will look for additional merit when she returns to Oaklawn Park April 1 for the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3), a 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-old fillies. Undefeated in two starts around the Hot Springs oval, the Godolphin homebred has fully capitalized on opportunities to acquire Oaks points this year with a decisive two-length score Jan. 28 in a sloppy edition of the Martha Washington Stakes ahead of Taxed and Defining Purpose. As luck would have it for the daughter of Blame—who seemingly thrives in wet conditions—she would run on yet another rainy day in Arkansas for her next contest, the Honeybee Stakes (G3). In a late-running style that is becoming characteristic of the bay filly, she opened up in the stretch to kick clear of leader Condensation, hitting the wire three lengths in front. The Brad Cox trainee will have Flavien Prat at the reins who returns after riding her to victory in the Martha Washington and Honeybee. Prat is the only jockey to have repeat rides on the filly after her first three starts at Kentucky Downs, Horseshoe Indianapolis, and Turfway Park, saw a rotation of riders, including Florent Geroux, Emmanuel Esquivel, and Chris Landeros. Hoping to defeat Wet Paint (70 points, third position on the Oaks leaderboard) is Chris Hartman trainee Condensation (16th place with 20 points) who has yet to put a stakes win on her record after a runner-up finish last December in the Letellier Memorial Stakes and a second in the Honeybee last out. The daughter of Frosted is campaigned by Pravin Patel and was a $40,000 purchase by PTK from the Woodford Thoroughbreds consignment to the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale. Other contenders returning from the Honeybee include Grand Love, Towhead, Take Charge Briana, Olivia Twist, and Taxed. The dual grade 3-placed Grand Love is campaigned by trainer Steve Asmussen for owner/breeder Three Chimneys Farm. After a 4 3/4-length victory in a maiden special weight last summer at Saratoga Race Course, the Gun Runner filly has yet to return to the winner's circle, including a third in the Pocahontas Stakes (G3) and sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last year. She is 23rd on the leaderboard with 18 points. Honeybee fifth Towhead is conditioned by Mike Maker for Pura Vida Investments, Cindy Hutson, and Brett Setzer. Switching back and forth between surfaces for her nine career starts, the Malibu Moon filly broke her maiden on her seventh try in a maiden special weight over the dirt at Churchill Downs last November and was runner-up in the 2022 Juvenile Fillies Stakes over the turf at Kentucky Downs. She is 54th on the leaderboard with five points. Taxed, who earned points for her runner-up finish in the Martha Washington is 44th with eight points, Take Charge Briana is 60th with four points, and Olivia Twist is 68th with two points. Rounding out the field are 72nd-placed Royal Spa (2 points), Dixie Belle Stakes runner-up Pate, and maiden special weight winner She's Lookin Lucky. The Fantasy offers 200 points to the top-five finishers (100-40-30-20-10, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks.