Curlin filly slipped up the rail to get by favorites Motion Emotion and Brill.

Lady Apple gets by Motion Emotion and Brill to take the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park
Photo: Ryan Thompson
Lady Apple gets by Motion Emotion and Brill to take the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park

Phoenix Thoroughbreds and KatieRich Stables’ Lady Apple was the surprise winner of the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park for 3-year-old fillies April 12, earning her first stakes victory. The score gave the daughter of Curlin  100 points toward a start in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), securing a place in the starting gate May 3 at Churchill Downs.

Lady Apple sat off the pace through most of the 1 1/16-mile event, in which 11 fillies went postward, as the two favorites, Motion Emotion and Brill, hooked up out of the gate to duel for the lead. Brill settled into second, allowing Motion Emotion to carve out fractions of :23.16 and :46.76 through a half-mile. Brill came back just after the half to battle with the leader, pressing the pace, but it was Lady Apple who slipped through on the rail to run by the leaders in the final furlong.

The final time over the fast track was 1:43.88. The one-length score made Lady Apple 3-for-3 in 2019, all at Oaklawn. Winless in four starts last year, including a fifth in the Schuylerville Stakes (G3), Lady Apple broke her maiden Feb 7 and returned to take a March 23 optional-claiming allowance race for trainer Steve Asmussen ahead of Friday’s race.

Ridden in the Fantasy by Ricardo Santana Jr., Lady Apple showed tenacity as she was guided through a narrow opening on the rail but ran strongly to get past the leaders.

“Ricardo gave her a dream trip, and the filly showed tremendous heart,” Asmussen said. “She broke smoothly. He worked out the perfect trip for her. I think the only option was the fence, and she showed a lot of heart to go through there.”

Off at odds of 9-1, the winner returned $21.60, $7.40, and $4.

“She got a great trip. I put her in the position we wanted to be in, she kept fighting for the rail,” Santana said. “Once she got through, she just kept going. It was a big win.”

Motion Emotion finished second—earning enough points to move her into ninth on the Oaks leaderboard—three-quarters of a length in front of Brill, who is 18th on the leaderboard with 22 points. Only 14 runners will make up the Kentucky Oaks field. The runner-up paid $3.40 and $2.60, and Brill returned $3.40 to show.

“It’s tough,” trainer Tom Van Berg said of 6-5 favorite Motion Emotion. “She’s running, set up well. The other one just got us. She ran hard. That’s all we can do.”

Bred in Kentucky by KatieRich Farms, Lady Apple is out of the grade 2-placed Clever Trick mare Miss Mary Apples, who has produced two other stakes winners and seven other winners. She has an unraced 2-year-old colt by Empire Maker  named Apple Empire and an unnamed More Than Ready  filly that was born this year.