Mr. Fantasy, thwarted in the Gotham by the overpowering performance of Kentucky Derby-bound I Want Revenge, turned back to a mile Saturday afternoon and got help from hard-to-handle Supreme Summit as he rode the rail to a 1 ¾-length victory over favored This Ones for Phil in the 130th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Withers for three-year-olds.
The Withers was the final graded stakes race of Aqueduct’s spring meet. The Big A will close after Sunday’s races, and live racing will move to Belmont Park for the 64-day Spring/Summer Meet on Wednesday, April 29.
Supreme Summit quickly got the lead, and just as quickly, raced so rank that he took jockey Eibar Coa out toward the middle of the track. That allowed Richard Migliore to secure the rail with Mr. Fantasy and maintain a reasonable pace behind splits of 23.11, 45.90 and 1:10.18 on the fast main track.
Mr. Fantasy held his position, and while Coa eventually got control of his mount, Migliore moved on the inside on the turn and took over the lead for good at the quarter-pole.
This Ones for Phil gave brave chase late, but the race was decided and Mr. Fantasy was the winner in 1:34.91. He returned $8.60 as the third choice of the crowd of 4,552.
“He was a little hot in the paddock,” said Artie Magnuson, assistant to winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “He’s not tough to handle, but he’s a little bit tougher than we are. I think he does better when he gets out on the course and away from everybody. I was glad it didn’t take anything out of the race.”
Gone Astray, who had a clear run in the lane, faded to third, followed by Just a Coincidence and Supreme Summit. Everyday Heroes and Seal Team were scratched.
The question now is where to go next. While Magnuson said that decision will be made by Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds, Migliore believes it is not out of the question step up to the big time if Mr. Fantasy continues to improve mentally.
“My horse broke in a bit of a tangle, but he’s such an athlete that he sorted himself out in two strides,” Migliore said “I was able to drop him in and he was idling along nicely. He’s got multiple moves. When I pushed the button, he just sprinted. I didn’t want to hit him. At the sixteenth pole, the race was over.
“Kiaran (McLaughlin) and Artie (Magnuson) have done a tremendous job managing his mental attitude. If he would act better, I’d think he’d deserve a shot at the Preakness (May 16) -- he’s that talented. Maybe in maturity, he’ll pop out. But he’s the best horse I’ve sat on in a while.”